"South Sea Island idyll" by Henry Hintermeister based on Gilda Gray in Aloma of the South Seas in the 1920s
"South Sea Island idyll" by Henry Hintermeister based on Gilda Gray in Aloma of the South Seas in the 1920s

The South Seas genre is a genre of literature, film, or entertainment (such as Tiki culture) that is set in the islands of the southern Pacific Ocean.[1] Many Hollywood films were produced on studio backlots or on Santa Catalina Island. The first feature non documentary film made on location was Lost and Found on a South Sea Island, shot in Tahiti.

The genre was known for its portrayal of tropical men as savages and cannibals, and women as shapely, innocent, exotic beauties.[2] The genre was seen as financially lucrative by the movie studios in the 1940s, despite criticisms that the genre was unrealistic and not well-informed.[3] Typical examples include 1941's South of Tahiti and White Savage (1943).[4]

Noted authors

Select films

South Sea stories in film and television
Year Title Filmmakers Notes
1922 Ebb Tide Based on novel by Robert Louis Stevenson
1928 Sadie Thompson Starring Gloria Swanson Based on "Rain"
1929 South Sea Rose
1931 Tabu: A Story of the South Seas
1932 Bird of Paradise Starring Dolores del Río and Joel McCrea Based on a play by Richard Walton Tully
1932 Rain Starring Joan Crawford Based on "Rain"
1933 In the Wake of the Bounty Directed by Charles Chauvel, starring Errol Flynn Semi-documentary
1935 Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) Based on the novel by Nordhoff and Hall
1935 Last of the Pagans Based on Typee
1936 Isle of Fury Starring Humphrey Bogart
1936 The Jungle Princess Starring Dorothy Lamour and Ray Milland
1937 Lovers and Luggers Set on Thursday Island
1937 The Hurricane Starring Dorothy Lamour, Jon Hall
1937 Ebb Tide Based on novel by Stevenson
1938 Vessel of Wrath Based on novel by Maugham
1938 Her Jungle Love Starring Dorothy Lamour and Ray Milland
1938 Sinners in Paradise Starring Madge Evans, John Boles, Bruce Cabot, Marion Martin and Gene Lockhart
1940 Road to Singapore Starring Dorothy Lamour
1940 Typhoon Starring Dorothy Lamour
1940 Seven Sinners Starring John Wayne
1940 South of Pago Pago Starring Jon Hall Frances Farmer
1941 Aloma of the South Seas Starring Jon Hall and Dorothy Lamour
1941 South of Tahiti Starring Brian Donlevy, Broderick Crawford, Andy Devine and Maria Montez
1942 Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake Starring Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney
1942 Pardon My Sarong Starring Abbott and Costello
1942 The Moon and Sixpence Based on a novel by Maugham
1942 The Tuttles of Tahiti Starring Jon Hall and Charles Laughton Based on the novel by Nordhoff and Hall
1942 Beyond the Blue Horizon Starring Dorothy Lamour
1943 White Savage Starring Jon Hall, Maria Montez
1944 Cobra Woman Starring Maria Montez, Jon Hall
1944 Rainbow Island
1947 High Barbaree Based on novel by Nordhoff and Hall
1947 Adventure Island Based on Ebb Tide by Stevenson
1948 On an Island with You Starring Esther Williams
1948 Wake of the Red Witch Starring John Wayne
1949 Omoo-Omoo, the Shark God
1950 Mutiny on the Bunny Cartoon
1950 Kon-Tiki Documentary
1950 Pagan Love Song Starring Esther Williams
1950 On the Isle of Samoa Starring Jon Hall
1950 South Sea Sinner Remake of Seven Sinners
1951 Bird of Paradise Starring Louis Jourdan and Jeff Chandler Based on a play by Richard Walton Tully
1951 China Corsair Starring Jon Hall
1951 Smuggler's Island Starring Jeff Chandler
1952 Saturday Island Starring Linda Darnell, Tab Hunter, Donald Gray Based on (from the novel "Saturday Island" by); Alternate title Island of Desire
1952 Road to Bali Starring Dorothy Lamour Parody of the genre
1953 Miss Sadie Thompson (1953) Starring Rita Hayworth Based on "Rain"
1953 Botany Bay Based on novel by Nordoff and Hall
1953 South Sea Woman Starring Burt Lancaster and Virginia Mayo
1953 Return to Paradise Based on a short story by James Michener
1953 All the Brothers Were Valiant Starring Robert Taylor, Stewart Granger and Ann Blyth
1954 His Majesty O'Keefe Starring Burt Lancaster
1954 Drums of Tahiti Starring Dennis O'Keefe and Patricia Medina
1954 The Beachcomber Based on novel by Maugham
1954 King of the Coral Sea Set on Thursday Island
1956 The Revolt of Mamie Stover Starring Jane Russell and Richard Egan
1956 The Women of Pitcairn Island
1957 Fire Down Below Starring Rita Hayworth, Robert Mitchum and Jack Lemmon Set in the Caribbean
1957 Hell Ship Mutiny Starring Jon Hall
1957 The Bridge on the River Kwai Starring William Holden, Alec Guinness and Jack Hawkins
1957 The Admirable Crichton Starring Kenneth More, Diane Cilento, Cecil Parker and Sally Ann Howes Based on (Based on the Play by) J.M. Barrie; Alternate title; Paradise Lagoon
1958 The Stowaway
1958 South Pacific Based on the musical
1958 Enchanted Island Based on Typee
1959 The Restless and the Damned
1961 The Devil at 4 O'Clock Based on novel by Max Catto
1959-62 Adventures in Paradise Television series
1962 Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) Based on novel by Nordoff and Hall
1962 Tiara Tahiti
1963 Donovan's Reef
1966 Hawaii Based on novel by Michener
1970 The Hawaiians Based on novel by Michener
1979 The Hurricane Based on the novel by Nordohff and Hall
1980 The Blue Lagoon Starring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins
1982 Paradise Starring Willie Aames and Phoebe Cates
1982 Tempest Starring John Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands, Susan Sarandon, Vittorio Gassman and Raul Julia Set in Greece
1983 Nate and Hayes Story of Bully Hayes
1984 The Bounty Starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins
1991 Return to the Blue Lagoon Starring Milla Jovovich and Brian Krause
1998 Six Days, Seven Nights
2001 South Pacific Adaptation of musical
2003 Paradise Found Biopic of Paul Gauguin
2012 The Legend
2012 Blue Lagoon: The Awakening Starring Indiana Evans, Brenton Thwaites and Denise Richards Television film
2012 Kon-Tiki


  1. ^ P. 544 Lal, Brij V. & Fortune, Kate The Pacific Islands: An Encyclopedia 2000 University of Hawaii Press
  2. ^ Brawley, Sean; Dixon, Chris (2012). "Through Hollywood's Lens: Prewar Visions of the South Pacific". Hollywood's South Seas and the Pacific War: Searching for Dorothy Lamour. Palmgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137090676. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  3. ^ Brawley, Sean; Dixon, Chris (2015). The South Seas: A Reception History from Daniel Defoe to Dorothy Lamour. Lexington Books. p. 246. ISBN 9780739193365. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  4. ^ Dixon, Chris (2018). African Americans and the Pacific War, 1941-1945: Race, Nationality, and the Fight for Freedom. Cambridge University Press. p. 97. ISBN 9781107112698. Retrieved 19 October 2020.