SOS Pacific (1959) starring Richard Attenborough, Pier Angeli, John Gregson, Eva Bartok, Eddie Constantine, Jean Anderson, Cec Linder, Clifford Evans, Gunnar Möller directed by Guy Green Movie Review

SOS Pacific (1959)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Richard Attenborough in SOS Pacific (1959)

Peril in the Pacific

During a thunderstorm a sea plane is forced to make an emergency landing on the water near an island, aboard are a policeman, Petersen (Clifford Evans) and his prisoner Mark (Eddie Constantine) as well as the uneasy Whitey (Richard Attenborough) a witness to his crimes and a variety of other passengers. With the pilot having died due to an extinguisher filling the cock pit with a toxic gas the remaining survivors make it to the island on the planes emergency rafts where upon they see the island is surrounded by derelict boats. They also discover two concrete bunkers; one containing goats the other containing camera equipment focussed on a nearby island. As they look at what the cameras are trained on they get a shock as they realise they are stranded in an H-Bomb testing zone and have only a few hours to find a way to either stop the test or get to safety.

If you watched "SOS Pacific" with no idea of what it was about it would be easy to suspect this cheaply made movie from the late 50s was going to be a typical disaster movie. The whole set up introduces us to the diverse bunch of passengers who are going to be aboard the troubled sea plane in a typical disaster movie way. And once they are on the plane it doesn't take long to put the disaster into action and giving us this varied bunch of characters stuck on this island. You get what you expect as characters clash, some fall for others and those who seem like they are worthless have an opportunity to come good.

John Gregson and Pier Angeli in SOS Pacific (1959)

But then we get the twist as these survivors discover that they are stuck on an island and facing doom due to it being in an H-bomb testing zone. Of course you have to deal with a lot of gaps in the logic none more so than when you question why a plane would be flying near an H-bomb test area in the first place. But it is an interesting premise as you wonder how they are going to survive whilst more characters clash and the tension rises.

Here though is the kicker as "SOS Pacific" was despite some well known actors such as John Gregson and Richard Attenborough just a b-movie and one which was shot in black and white. Except this is one of those movies which then went through the colouring process at some point and the finished movie has that fake look about it which sadly ends up only working as a distraction. It also has a strange effect when it comes to the acting as whilst for example Richard Attenborough does a nice job of playing a shifty, nervous character the fact he doesn't look right makes it feel weak. Although it has to be said that whilst Attenborough is the star of the movie your attention will be diverted by the attractive sight of Eva Bartok and Pier Angeli.

What this all boils down to is that "SOS Pacific" is an entertaining movie and one which to be frank is better than many of the b-movies of the time. It is a shame that it went through the colouring process as it only leaves it with that fake look which makes it feel unnatural.