Framed in a flashback related by doctor Thomas Mitchell, The Hurricane is in essence the story of a struggle between individual freedom and colonial oppression. Jon Hall plays Terangi, a tempestuous native of the French-controlled island of Manakoora. After marrying childhood sweetheart Marama (Dorothy Lamour, saronged as usual), Terangi takes a job on a ship. While docked in Tahiti, Teragni is goaded into a fight by a white man - an offense punishable by a stiff prison term. French governor DeLaage (Raymond Massey) has nothing personal against the native, but he is dedicated to upholding the strict letter of the law. Even the appeals made on behalf of Terangi by doctor Mitchell, priest C. Aubrey Smith, ship's captain Jerome Cowan and the governor's own wife (Mary Astor) fail to weaken DeLaage's resolve to do his duty. Thus begins a chain of events that entangles the freedom-loving Terangi in the impenetrable web of white "justice". Time and again Terangi escapes from prison, only to be recaptured and sentenced to longer and longer terms. Finally managing to make his way back to Manakoora -- and killing a prison guard in the process -- Terangi continues to be doggedly pursued by DeLaage. Just as Terangi is about to sail off to parts unknown in an outrigger canoe with Marama and their child, the hurricane begins. At the risk of his own life, and his freedom, Terangi rescue DeLaage's wife and several other storm refugees. Largely the handiwork of art director James Basevi, the hurricane of The Hurricane was not directed by the film's official helmsman John Ford, but by an uncredited Stuart Heisler -- a fact readily acknowledged by Ford. Adapted by Dudley Nichols and Oliver H. P. Garrett from a novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, The Hurricane was poorly remade in 1979 with Jason Robards and Mia Farrow in the Raymond Massey and Mary Astor roles.
by Hal Erickson synopsis