Tropical Nights (1928) *

October 08, 2022

“Tropical Nights” — with Patsy Ruth Miller

(Tiffany-Stahl, Dec. 10; 5,449 ft.; 63 to 77 min.)

This picture has been founded on the Jack London novel. Though Jack London’s novels are literary masterpieces, none of them so far has made a genuinely good moving picture. “Tropical Nights” is no different from the others. It is not a very good picture. The characters do not do any-thing that would befriend them to the spectator with any kind of warmth. On the contrary, some of the things they do are displeasing to the average picture-goer. For instance, in one situation the hero’s young brother is shown luring the heroine into his shack and then making an insulting proposal to her. Offering her a pearl, he is shown as saying: “This pearl will pay your way home if meaning if she would “capitulate” to him. In a later situation a friend of the hero is shown making determined advances to the heroine, threatening to tell the hero that she had murdered his young brother if she would refuse. The murder, which is committed by the hero’s friend for the purpose of robbery, is not a pleasant sight either. Much less so because an innocent person — the heroine — was made to suffer for it ; she thought that the hero’s young brother died as a result of the push she gave him when he made the insulting proposal to her ; he had struck his head on a sharp piece of wood, and therefore she was in constant mortal fear lest she be detected. The only pleasing thing in the picture is the tropical scenery, and the pearl diving. In one scene the foot of the murderer is shown caught by a big clam; and in a later scene a devil fish of immense dimensions is shown wrapping its tentacles around the body of the young murderer, while he was still held fast by the clam. These scenes have been made extremely realistic by Elmer Clifton.

Source: Harrison’s Reports, December 1928


Tropical Nights: Tiffany-Stahl drama, by Jack London, with Patsy Ruth Miller, Malcolm McGregor, Ray Hallor, Wallace McDonald and Russell Simpson.

Directed by Elmer Clifton



Type And theme: A sea thriller. Jim and Harvey, brothers, operate a pearling barge. Harvey tells Mary, who is an entertainer that he will get her money enough to sail back home. He becomes too ardent, and Mary strikes him. Harvey falls and hits his head on a stone. Mary flees, thinking him dead. Stavnov sees her flee and starts robbing Harvey of his pearls. Harvey comes to and the two begin to fight. Harvey is killed by Stavnov. Later Jim is in a cafe and sees a girl, who happens to be Mary, being thrown out for not paying her bill. She is put in prison. Jim and Stavnov go pearling. Stavnov gets his foot caught in a shell and is killed by a sword fish, but confesses his murder to Jim. Jim goes to court and frees Mary and all is well.

Collection: Film DailyFebruary 1929


“Tropical Nights” — Tiffany-Stahl

A rather original South Seas picture, with a realistic tropical setting and spectacular pearl-diving scenes. A white man’s vicious lust for pearls drives him to the murder of his partner, and a marooned American girl is almost the victim of circumstantial evidence. And the murdered man’s brother falling in love with her stresses the drama of the situation. Patsy Ruth Miller, as the innocent girl, Malcolm MacGregor, as the brother, and Wallace MacDonald, the heavy, all play their respective parts with ease.

Collection: Photoplay MagazineMarch 1929