Sunday, September 24, 2017

Passionate Summer ( 1958 ) aka Storm Over Jamaica

An island paradise...where all human emotions are exposed under a tropic sun.

In spite of its engaging tagline, Passionate Summer, also known as Storm Over Jamaica, gives its audience a light drizzle of drama compared to the raging storm promised. It focuses on the traditional one-man/two-women love triangle with a little time off to pursue some interesting side plots. 

Bill Travers stars as Douglas Lockwood, a gifted teacher at Leonard Pawley's experimental school situated in the outskirts of Jamaica. During one summer, a private plane crashes into the mountains a short distance from the school. Lockwood helps rescue passenger Judy Waring ( Virginia McKenna ) and quickly develops a romantic interest in her while she convalesces at the school, much to the chagrin of love-starved Mrs. Pawley ( Yvonne Mitchell ) who was openly pursuing Lockwood. 

One of Lockwood's students, Sylvia ( Ellen Barrie ) is a holy-terror, an unruly emotionally disturbed girl who only delights in testing Lockwood's patience. Since he is a well-bred English chap, he came equipped with plenty of patience and insists on trying to reform Sylvia without punishment, a practice that Mr. Pawley ( Alexander Knox ) supports. What Pawley doesn't realize is that Lockwood seems to have trouble getting his own life untangled, and wrestles with his love for Judy Waring, knowing very well that she may just be using him. 

Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, who married in real-life, were both talented actors even though their range was limited. They each bring a fair amount of passion to their parts, but never let their emotions get out of hand.....a quality that Hollywood would have eagerly exploited had they snatched the rights to Richard Mason's novel, which Passionate Summer was based upon. 
Yvonne Mitchell, on the other hand, did an excellent job of portraying the slightly neurotic wife of headmaster Pawley. Pawley's indifference towards her is plain and - during the titular storm - she shows no shame in flaunting her love for Lockwood. 

The film features some good set design and beautiful Jamaican location filming which was shot in Eastman colour, but fails to leave a memorable impression after viewing. Even the music, penned by Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, is rather bland compared to his fine work on Conspiracy of Hearts ( 1960 ). 

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