Isle of Missing Men

Isle of Missing Men is a 1942 American drama film directed by Richard Oswald and starring John Howard, Helen Gilbert and Gilbert Roland.[1] In the film, a young woman receives an invitation from the governor of an island prison to spend a week with him. She does so, but conceals the fact that her husband is being held as a convict on the island.

Isle of Missing Men
Directed byRichard Oswald
Produced byRichard Oswald
Written byRichard Oswald
Robert Chapin
Screenplay byEdward Eliscu
Robert Chapin
Based onWhite Lady
by Ladislas Fodor
Gina Kaus
StarringJohn Howard
Helen Gilbert
Gilbert Roland
Music byEdward Kay
CinematographyPaul Ivano
Edited byJack Dennis
Richard Oswald Productions
Distributed byMonogram Pictures
Release date
  • August 18, 1942 (1942-08-18)
Running time
67 min.
Country United States

Plot summary

Merrill Hammond (John Howard), governor on the prison island of Caruba, is traveling with S.S. Bombay towards Australia. The ship is attacked by Japanese bombers and the ship has to return to Caruba. Merrill invites one of the other passengers, a woman named Diana Bryce (Helen Gilbert), to stay at his place while they wait for another transport.

The island inhabitants are few; there is Doc Brown (Alan Mowbray), the prison doctor and George Kent (Bradley Page), prison administrator.

Diana gets to stay in a house that Merrill originally built for his wife, who died shortly after her arrival to the island. Her presence is not appreciated by Kent, who dislikes the idea of a woman living there. Diana is interested in the prisoners and expresses a wish to see them.

Soon after Doc Brown tells of a typhoid epidemic on the island. While the four inhabitants have dinner one night, they are watched by Dan Curtis (Gilbert Roland), one of the convicts, who has been found guilty of murder. The others are unaware that Diana is in fact Dan's wife. Dan is discovered and sent back to his room.

In the night, Diana secretly meets Dan and explains that she is there to set him free. He tells her he will try to escape, but she wants him to wait until his retrial, where she will help him get a new verdict. Kent hears someone talking and is about to investigate, when Merrill comes around and leaves Diana a book, this interrupting Kent in his search. Diana gives her money and jewels to Dan to help him in his escape.

Kent looks closer into Curtis' background, and finds the jewels when he searches his room. To avoid surprises he puts Curtis in an isolation cell, which makes it impossible for him to break out.

Diana tries to get Brown on her side, telling him about her husband. She wants the doctor to tell the others that Curtis has died from the epidemic and help him escape. The doctor agrees.

While Diana is left alone in the doctor's office, she happens to look into Curtis' records and finds out that he is a pathological liar and two-timer. She is appalled by this, and when Curtis has been safely stored on a ship on its away from the island, she tells him she will leave him because she doesn't love him anymore.

The doctor tells Merrill what he has done, but Merrill lets Curtis escape because of Diana, whom he has fallen in love with. When Kent questions his decisions and judgement, he resigns his position.

During a fight aboard the ship, Curtis is killed, and Diana returns to the island to look for Merrill. She finds him and confesses her love for him, and they leave the island together.[2]



The film was made by Oswald for the Poverty Row studio Monogram Pictures. Oswald was an exiled Austrian director who had fled Germany when the Nazis came to power going back to Austria, then to the Netherlands, to France and finally to Hollywood where he made a handful of films.[3]



  • Langman, Larry. Destination Hollywood: The Influence of Europeans on American Filmmaking. McFarland & Co, 2000.
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