Cast & Crew
In 1718 two former indentured servants, Devon and Thomas Mainwaring, and their children, Cullen and Jafar, settle on an island off the Carolina coast willed to them by their late master. No sooner have they established camp, than Nicholas and Enoch Gates, two brothers from an illiterate fishing family, try to drive them off the island. Although Enoch kills her husband, Devon is determined to stay. The next day Jacob Webber, a castaway, is washed ashore. Overcoming her suspicions, the young widow takes in the stranger, who reveals himself to be a pirate. Although Webber refuses at first to help fight the fishermen, he routs them all with his cutlass when the entire Gates family returns and attacks him. Nicholas Gates joins the group when he is thrown overboard for rebelling against Kingstree, a slave trader whom Enoch has hired to fight the settlers. Kingstree identifies Webber as Bluebeard's former sailmaster, and the battle becomes a personal one in which Webber kills the cutthroat. Nicholas, fascinated by Devon's ability to read, remains with her and the children to help settle the island as Webber returns to his life of piracy.
Mason was at the height of his stardom in 1962, appearing the same year as Humbert Humbert in the hit adaptation of Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita for director Stanley Kubrick. The high would not last for long. Two years after making Hero's Island, he would divorce his wife of 23 years, Pamela Mason. The mountainous alimony and child support payments she won would send him into a whirlwind of quickie films just to keep up with his financial obligations. Despite a few solid productions, it would be years before he re-established his position as one of the world's most respected actors.
Hero's Island was the second directing credit for Stevens, a playwright who had broken into films adapting his hit comedy The Marriage-Go-Round to the screen as a vehicle for David Niven and Susan Hayward. It also marked his second try at turning his wife, Kate Manx, into a film star. Previously, he had directed her to strong critical reaction in the adult drama Private Property. Although she was a beautiful, naturally gifted actress, their turbulent marriage didn't last. They divorced shortly thereafter, and she committed suicide in 1964.
Despite the misfortunes of the film's stars, Hero's Island also proved a benefit to other members of the cast and crew. Child actor Darby Hinton, cast as one of Manx's three children, would move to small-screen stardom as Fess Parker's son on Daniel Boone before launching an adult career as a soap opera star (Days of Our Lives). Veteran cinematographer Ted McCord, whose beautiful photography of the film's Catalina locations won the picture's strongest reviews, had already built a solid career with such beautifully shot films as Johnny Belinda (1948) and the innovative East of Eden (1955). He would follow Hero's Island with the box-office blockbuster The Sound of Music (1965). And composer Dominic Frontiere would continue his association with Stevens by scoring the cult classic TV series The Outer Limits and the recently rediscovered horror film Incubus (1965), the only film ever shot entirely in Esperanto.
Producer: Leslie Stevens, James Mason
Director & Screenplay: Leslie Stevens
Cinematography: Ted D. McCord
Music: Dominic Frontiere
Film Editing: Richard K. Brockway
Costume Design: Reeder P. Boss, Marjorie Wahl
Cast: James Mason (Jacob Webber), Kate Manx (Devon Mainwaring), Neville Brand (Kingstree), Rip Torn (Nicholas), Warren Oates (Wayte), Harry Dean Stanton (Dixey), Morgan Mason (Cullen), Darby Hinton (Jafar). C-95m.
by Frank Miller
Location scenes filmed on Santa Catalina island. Also known as The Land We Love.
Released in United States 1962
Released in United States 1962