Saturday afternoon at the movies-five words that speak volumes to viewers middle-aged-and-older. Fair Wind to Java, newly and lovingly restored to its original Trucolor glory, is the Saturday matinee par excellence: the drama is minimal, the pace is brisk, the scenery is eye-filling, and the special effects are lovably unpretentious. Fred MacMurray is the ship's captain scouring the East Indies and battling the local pirates for a sunken cache of diamonds, and Vera Ralston is the Javanese girl Kim Kim who knows where the treasure is hidden (and who speaks with a mysterious Eastern European accent). Just beyond, the volcano at Krakatoa awaits, ready to blow. Maybe the real stars of Fair Wind are the Lydecker "twins" (they actually weren't, but they were brothers), Republic Pictures' resident special effects geniuses: given what they had to work with (an average Republic budget was $50,000) their photographic effects are wonders to behold, and their version of Krakatoa has to be seen to be disbelieved. Fair Wind to Java is a reminder of a time when every movie didn't have the livelihoods of its entire cast and crew riding on it, and when simply watching movies in theatres, as opposed to particular movies on video monitors, was something to look forward to after a long week of homework.
Restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive.
Restoration funded by The Film Foundation and Robert M. Sturm.
Introduced by Martin Scorsese.
About the Director(s)Collapse
A former professional cellist and film editor, Joseph Kane started co-directing serials for Mascot and Republic and soon became their top western director. His first directorial credit was The Fighting Marines (1935). When Mascot and other companies amalgamated into Republic Pictures in 1935, Kane became staff director, remaining at the studio until it ceased production in 1958. He piloted many Gene Autry and Roy Rogers films and worked with John Wayne on Flame of the Barbary Coast (1944), and Joseph Schildkraut on The Cheaters (1945). Unlike most Republic house directors, Kane was also credited as associate producer on many films. Fair Wind to Java had what may have been the biggest budget for any film shot at Republic-$1,250,000.