British class warfare provides the basis for Tiara Tahiti with it’s story revolving round working class Clifford Southey (John Mills) and upper class Capt. Brett Aimsley (James Mason). Set in immediate post-war Germany, Southey is an immensely paranoid Lieutenant Colonel who has to deal with the sudden intrusion into his troupe of Brett Aimsley. Prior to the war, Southey had been a clerk in a stockbroking firm in which Aimsley had been a junior partner. Realising that Southey feels inferior, Aimsley plays up his popularity with the soldiers to undermine the Lieutenant Colonel’s position. Finally, Southey catches Aimsley out in a smuggling racket and has him thrown out of the army in disgrace.
Following his natural bent towards a life of dissolution, Aimsley makes his way to Tahiti and settles down with Tahitian maiden Belle Annie (Rosenda Monteros). However, his idyll is shattered when years later Southey turns up in Tahiti with a scheme to build a hotel. Aimsley still knows how to confuse and frustrate Southey and their relationship develops further into one of mutual hatred. When the two fight, Southey knocks Aimsley out and leaves the scene. However, local villain Chong Sing (Herbert Lom), who has designs on Belle, attempts but fails to murder Aimsley when he’s defenceless and then frame Southey for the crime. Knowing the truth of the situation, Aimsley then has to decide whether he will exonerate Southey or let him be charged with murder.
Variety says: “The two male stars in this pic have a field day. Mason is fine as the mocking wastrel while Mills is equally good in a more difficult role that could have lapsed into parody, but for the thesp’s shrewd observation and professional know-how. Every inflection, every gesture is supremely right for the cocky, affected character with a chip on his shoulder.”
UK / 1962
Director: Ted Kotcheff
Writers: Ivan Foxwell, Geofrey [sic] Cotterell, from his own novel
Cast: James Mason, John Mills, Roy Kinnear, Herbert Lom, Claude Dauphin, Rosenda Monteros