The Tuttles of Tahiti (1942) starring Charles Laughton, Jon Hall, Peggy Drake, Victor Francen, Florence Bates, Adeline De Walt Reynolds, Tommy Cook directed by Charles Vidor Movie Review

The Tuttles of Tahiti (1942)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Adeline De Walt Reynolds, Charles Laughton and Jon Hall in The Tuttles of Tahiti (1942)

At Home with The Tuttles

Is a fool and his money easily parted or are some people happier having little and what they have is for having fun? Those are two of the viewpoints which you may come up with if you watch "The Tuttles of Tahiti" but to be honest searching for depth is futile because this is just a fun movie from the 1940s. And to be honest whilst "The Tuttles of Tahiti" will make you smile it is not really that memorable although it does allow you to watch the marvellous Adeline De Walt Reynolds who after an already eventful life started her acting career at the age of 78 and was still acting when she was 97.

Chester Tuttle (Jon Hall - Brave Warrior) returns home to Tahiti after a few years away and finds that nothing has changed, the family home and the large family is just as chaotic as it always was with his father Jonas (Charles Laughton - They Knew What They Wanted) ducking, diving and borrowing money to get by. No one in the Tuttles minds because they get by and they have a good time doing it, that is until a bet on a cockfight leads them to not only lose all their money but also money which Jonas borrowed against the house. Despite now facing a mortgage to pay it seems that the Tuttles luck has changed when Chester and his brothers find and abandoned freighter after a storm and set about claiming salvage rights to it, but with a sudden influx of wealth is it a wise thing to let everyone to have the freedom to spend the money?

Jon Hall and Peggy Drake in The Tuttles of Tahiti (1942)

I suppose that at its heart "The Tuttles of Tahiti" is a movie about people's mentality not only to money but also living as we observe the mixed fortunes of the Tuttle family. We watch as whilst they have little they enjoy living and don't let things get them down and then we watch how suddenly when they get money it goes before they know it. But to say there is some deep subtext to this would be to miss the point because all the "The Tuttles of Tahiti" is about is the fun of the laid back life style of the Tuttle's under the leadership of the almost horizontal Jonas.

As such we have lots of humour starting with the introduction to the extensive Tuttle family as they all get up to welcome Chester home and Jonas struggling to remember the names of the extensive brood. This continues as we witness Jonas's ducking and diving ways as he steals the gas from their fishing boat to use in the truck leaving the boys stranded out at sea whilst trying to fish to make money to bet. But this gets even funnier when through a series of events the Tuttles end up with a fortune and spend it quicker than they can write the cheques. One of the best scenes is when Jonas receives a letter to say the bank account is overdrawn and Jonas innocently writes a cheque because the bank needs more money.

But the thing is that whilst "The Tuttles of Tahiti" is a fun movie which at 91 minutes is just the right length it's not exactly memorable. Charles Laughton may have fun as the laid back Jonas but it is a forgettable character as is Jon Hall as Chester and the beautiful Peggy Drake as Chester's love interest Tamara is not in it enough. In the end you remember it more because it features Adeline De Walt Reynolds as Mama Ruau, not because Mama is such a great character but because of Reynolds amazing personal story of becoming an actress when she was 78.

What this all boils down to is that for me "The Tuttles of Tahiti" is just a fun movie from the 1940s about a large family who can't hold on to money. For some it may have deeper meanings about happiness and money but I suggest just watch it for the fun and the wonderful Adeline De Walt Reynolds.