Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

ADVENTURES IN PARADISE

Glib disdain: Gardner McKay
ADVENTURES IN PARADISE (1959 television series).

Adventures in Paradise, a series which lasted three seasons, cataloged the adventures of one Adam Troy (Gardner McKay), a Korean war veteran who hoped to raise money for a ranch in Texas. Somehow he wound up in Tahiti, where he is captain of the Tiki, a ship which takes on both passengers and cargo. Troy's assistants include Clay Baker (James Holden), who always calls the captain "Pappy," (and later becomes a bar owner); and Chris Parker (Guy Stockwell), who was in about a third of the episodes; among others.

Gardner McKay [The Pleasure Seekers] was perfect for the role of Adam Troy, not only for his incredible good looks, but that almost mesmerizing stare of what can only be called "glib disdain." McKay wasn't necessarily an actor of great range or emotion, but his strong and commanding presence worked in his favor. Holden compliments McKay; he had only a few credits aside from this series and did nothing else after the show was over. Stockwell [Blindfold], who was almost as handsome as McKay, amassed over 90 credits. McKay only had ten other credits besides this series, but he reinvented himself as a playwright whose work was often produced.

Bolstered by the beautiful and romantic theme music composed, I believe, by Lionel Newman, the series -- while not essential viewing -- had a certain sweep and style to it, and featured some good stories (everything from adventure to comedy to mysteries) and fine performances by a variety of well-known guest-stars. No doubt there were many viewers who dreamed of setting sail with Adam (who seemed to have a woman in every port) through the warm waters of Tahiti (although I imagine even that could get tiresome after awhile). Occasionally the soundtrack featured music cues from the scores of Bernard Herrmann, such as Journey to the Center of the Earth. I've managed to see about 67 of the 91 episodes, and of these the most memorable are:

"Safari at Sea" with Diana Lynn and John Ericson in a tale of a bickering couple who want to capture a dangerous eel. The wife is a castrating monster who wants a macho man like Adam.

"The Raft," a harrowing lifeboat drama -- after a boat hits a mine -- with an especially notable performance from Ed Anders.

"Walk Through the Night" stars Mara Corday in a memorable performance of a woman who hunts for the man she loves amidst danger and cannibals with the help of Adam Troy.

"The Black Pearl." Skulduggery over the title gem with appearances by Lon Chaney Jr and Patricia Medina.

"Man-Eater." Did a shark devour an amorous, wealthy married lady? With notable turns from Bethel Leslie and John Fielder.

"Please Believe Me." A woman (an excellent Jacqueline Scott) is accused of murdering her new but rather larcenous husband.

"Violent Journey." An especially flavorful episode with Jeff Richards and Jerome Cowan in a tale of a runaway heiress and sharks.

"Feather Clock." Pippa Scott and George Macready are fine in a story of some cleverly stolen artwork.

"Judith." Gloria Vanderbilt, of all people, proves herself a gifted actress indeed in this tale of a hurricane that also unveils terrific human passions.

"Flamin' Lady" stars Catherine Nesbitt, Harvey Korman, and Patricia Cutts in a suspense story.

"Command at Sea." Raymond Massey gives an outstanding performance in a tale of a captain who blames a younger officer for his own deadly mistake. Michael David is also memorable.

"Daughter of Illusion" offers Alan Napier and Barbara Steele in notable turns as a magician and his daughter in a scheme to use a dress to pilfer diamonds.

"Build My Gallows Low" has Adam accused of murder and on the run, but aided by the victim's daughter, Peggy Ann Garner, giving a fine performance.

Of the episodes I've seen, the two best are easily "The Good Killing," a moving story in which a young man commits murder for what he thinks is a good reason; and "Amazon," about a yacht race with a man's life at stake, with very good performances from Lizabeth Scott and Tom Drake.

Verdict: Too many mediocre episodes, but not a half-bad series. **1/2.

4 comments:

Gary R. said...

The moment I saw you'd reviewed this show, I started humming its memorable theme music.

William said...

Yes, I confess I could listen to it over and over again!

angelman66 said...

Looking forward to checking this series out--and Gardner Mackay is a real hunk!!
-C

William said...

I think the term "drop dead gorgeous" was invented for McKay! I hate 'im, LOL!