Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Outcast of the Islands (1951)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Outcast of the Islands (1951, UK)

In Carol Reed's compelling and dramatic adventure set in the Indonesian tropics - based on Joseph Conrad's 1896 novel:

  • the character of failed roguish Englishman Peter Willems (Trevor Howard), a swindling, thieving and cheating shipping firm manager in Singapore (Indonesia), scandalously fired from his job in the opening sequence
  • after abandoning his wife (Betty Ann Davies) and feeling distraught as a fugitive, the self-destructive Willems was saved from an attempted drowning suicide; he was befriended and taken under the protective wing of lucrative trader Capt. Lingard (Ralph Richardson), his former mentor who had also rescued him when he was a 12-year-old boy: ("I can understand your dirty pride. I'll see this thing through. It's the second time, Willems, I take you in hands. Mind it is the last. The only difference between then and now is you were barefooted then and have boots now. In fourteen years, with all your smartness. A poor result that, a very poor result... I knew you from a child, more or less. And now I shall forget; but you are young yet. Life is very long. Let this be a lesson to you"
  • Lingard promised to save Willems and offer him a redemptive new life: ("I'm taking you to that place of my own, about which people talk so much and know so little. It's up a river. It isn't easy but I've found a way to get her up. You'll learn something now, my boy, more than you ever learned among the longshore quill drivers") - they sailed to the hidden, secret idyllic river-bank village of Sambir (after perilously navigating through a rocky river mouth) - Lingard's remote trading post near the coast of Batam; Willems dubiously promised to keep the navigational route a secret: ("Your secret's safe with me")
  • Willems' lustful stalking, leering, and eventual illicit affair with exotic native girl Aissa (Kerima in her debut film) (who never spoke a word in the film); she was dedicated to feeding her blind father - the island's chieftain Badavi (A. V. Bramble), and brought shame to him for her association with Willems - leading to his eventual neglect and death
Willems with Aissa - Inter-Racial Romance
  • the scene of Willems' description of his obsession and fixation on Aissa, confided to Lingard's daughter Mrs. Almayer (Wendy Hiller), the wife of Lingard's venal son-in-law Elmer Almayer (Robert Morley): "I swear I'll never go over there again. And then I find myself waiting for her. Every day it's the same. I know all you're trying to tell me, but what am I to do?... I see her all the days, all the nights. I see her every breath, every bounce of her eye, every movement of her lips. I see nothing else. What else is there?"; Mrs. Almayer warned: "Are you afraid of what she is and what you might become? You'd do well to be afraid"
  • the savage assault of the natives on Lingard's pompous, self-interested and despicable trader son-in-law Elmer - they tortured him by wrapping him up in a hammock and swinging him above a bonfire
  • the climactic ending, in which the greedy and obsessed Willems, who had aligned himself and been manipulated by the sly native Babalatchi (George Colouris in black-face) and competing Arab trader Ali (Dharma Emmanuel), betrayed Lingard's trust and revealed the treacherous trading route to the lagoons
  • the final and last confrontation between Lingard and Willems, leading to the latter's condemnation by the natives; he was exiled and ostracized to a remote and isolated piece of land with Aissa; Willems begged to be taken away, but Lingard refused after giving him so many other breaks, and was determined to leave Willems (and Aissa) abandoned there: ("You have been possessed of a devil...I regret nothing else I ever did, but this was different. I picked you up like a starving cat when you were twelve, I helped you through your life till it became part of mine. Then, I let you ruin the lives of all those who put their faith in me. I am an old fool...Did you ever see me lie and cheat and steal, tell me that, hey!? I wonder where in perdition you came from when I found you under my feet? No matter. You'll do no more harm. Well, what do you expect? Do you know what you've done? What do you expect?....No promise of yours is any good to me. I am going to take your future into my own hands. You are my prisoner. You shall stay here. You are not fit to go among people. Who could suspect, who could guess, who could imagine what is in you? I couldn't. You are my mistake. I shall hide you here. If I let you out, you'll go out among unsuspecting men and lie and steal and cheat for a little money or for some woman. I don't choose to shoot you. It would be the safest way, but I won't. Don't expect me to forgive you. To forgive, one must first be angry and then contemptuous. There's nothing in me now, no anger, no contempt, no disappointment. To me, you are not Willems, the man I thought much of and helped the man who was my friend. You're not a human being to be destroyed or forgiven. You are a bitter thought, something without a body that must be hidden. You are my shame...You say that you don't want to die here. Very well then, you must live. (To Aissa) Understand, I leave him his life, not in mercy but in punishment. You are alone. (To Willems) You say that you did this for her. Well, you have her")
  • as Lingard strutted off to return to his boat, Aissa handed a revolver to Willems to shoot Lingard, but he couldn't pull the trigger; they had a few final words at the beach, in the midst of a thunderous tropical rainstorm: (Lingard: "Provoke you? What is there in you to provoke?"); Willems called out an echoing goodbye, the film's final line of dialogue: "We shall meet again, Captain Lingard"; Willems and a spiteful Aissa were stranded but together

Scoundrel Peter Willems
(Trevor Howard)

Willems Saved by Capt. Lingard From Attempted Drowning Suicide

Sailing with Capt. Lingard

Navigating to Sambir - A Perilous Trading Route

Willems - Talking About His Fixation For Aissa with Mrs. Almayer

Natives' Attack on Lingard's Son-In-Law Elmer Almayer

Final Confrontation Between Lingard and Willems: "You are not fit to go among people"

Lingard to Willems - Final Words on the Beach During Rainstorm


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