Four Frightened People (1934)

The main reason I rented Cecil B. DeMille’s Four Frightened People was to get acquainted with Leo Carrillo’s filmography.  It doesn’t appear Latinos are very aware of classic Latino Hollywood history so I’d like to highlight many Latinos in my blog.  It’s a wonder he’s not more famous amongst Latinos since he afterall has Leo Carrillo State Park named after him.  He often played stereotypical Latino or other stereotypical ethnic roles but he came from an well-established and respected multigenerational California family.

Carrillo plays a Malay claiming to be English because he owns a tie.  When he decides to fight a tribe believing they won’t kill him because he’s “English,” he’s tactfully warned that he may be killed because he’s gotten too “sunburned.” Chris Pin Martin, portraying a native boatman, is another Latino actor. Tetsu Komai, a Japanese-born minor actor from the 20s-60s, plays the native chief. Another Japanese-born actor, Teru Shimada, most famous as a villian in You Only Live Twice, plays a native. In Hollywood, it appears anyone of Latin or Asian descent played Malay.

This is such a silly movie but I can’t help but like it. Claudette Colbert transforms from a meek schoolmarm to  Sheena Queen of the Jungle. Married Herbert Marshall and radio journalist William Gargan initially scorn Colbert until they see her bathe naked.  While held for ransom in exchange for a bag of rice, zany socialite Mary Boland leads a  woman’s suffragist movement on an isolated Malay Island.

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