Tropic Zone (film)

Tropic Zone is a 1953 American crime film written and directed by Lewis R. Foster and starring Ronald Reagan, Rhonda Fleming, Estelita Rodriguez, Noah Beery Jr., Grant Withers and John Wengraf. It was released on January 14, 1953, by Paramount Pictures.[1][2][3][4]

Tropic Zone
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLewis R. Foster
Produced byWilliam H. Pine
William C. Thomas
Screenplay byLewis R. Foster
Based onnovel Gentlemen of the Jungle by Tom Gill
StarringRonald Reagan
Rhonda Fleming
Estelita Rodriguez
Noah Beery Jr.
Grant Withers
John Wengraf
Music byLucien Cailliet
CinematographyLionel Lindon
Edited byHoward A. Smith
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • January 14, 1953 (1953-01-14)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States


Reagan's character, Dan McCloud, is an American (described as a "soldier of fortune" in the publicity for the picture's release[5]) who becomes the foreman of a Central American banana plantation. Learning that his employer, Lukats, is corrupt and trying to corner the market, McCloud joins with one of the smaller growers (played by Rhonda Fleming) to organize the workers and stop Lukats' scheme.[6]



The film was based on a 1939 novel by Tom Gill called Gentlemen of the Jungle about a banana plantation in British Honduras.[7] In May 1951 the producers at Pine-Thomas Productions read a copy of the novel en route to the premiere of their film The Last Outpost in Tucson. They bought the film rights intending to make it a vehicle for Rhoda Fleming, as the last of a four-picture deal she had with Pine-Thomas. (Earlier films included Last Outpost, Crosswinds and Hong Kong.)[8] Ronald Reagan eventually signed to co star.

Estelita Rodriguez was borrowed from Republic.

Paramount built a large set for the film, reportedly the studio's biggest new set in ten years. Designed by art director A. Earl Hedrick together with studio supervisor Hal Pereira, and covering four stages, the set depicted "a complete Caribbean native village", with "16 buildings, irrigation ditches, five hilltops, a schoolhouse, two roads, two streams, a complicated powerhouse" and more.[9] Edith Head, who had already won the first four of her eight Academy Awards, handled the costumes for the film, highlighted by Fleming's fourteen different outfits, all of them in "jungle tones".[10]


Reagan later dismissed the film as a "sand and banana" picture with a "hopeless" script.[11][12]

See also


  1. "Tropic Zone (1953) - Overview". Retrieved 2015-03-24.
  2. "Tropic-Zone - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes". Retrieved 2015-03-24.
  3. "Tropic Zone". Retrieved 2015-03-25.
  4. TROPIC ZONE Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 20, Iss. 228, (Jan 1, 1953): 111.
  5. "Orpheum Slates Banana Bonanza", The Spokesman-Review, March 11, 1953.
  6. Michael Thomas Carroll, Popular Modernity in America: Experience, Technology, Mythohistory (SUNY Press, 2000), ISBN 978-0791447147, pp. 199-200. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  7. PARAMOUNT SIGNS DONALD O'CONNOR New York Times 24 Jan 1952: 23.
  8. Drama: Rhonda Fleming Due to Boss Plantation Los Angeles Times 15 May 1951: 27.
  9. "Gigantic Set Built For Pine-Thomas Film", The Spokesman-Review, April 20, 1952.
  10. Jay Jorgensen, Edith Head: The Fifty-Year Career of Hollywood's Greatest Costume Designer (Running Press, 2010), ISBN 978-0762441730, p. 186. Excerpts available at Google Books.
  11. "Here's the Rest of Him: The Complete Movie Career of Candidate Ronald Reagan", People, September 15, 1980.
  12. Marc Eliot, Reagan: The Hollywood Years (Three Rivers Press, 2009), ISBN 978-0307405135, p. 261. Excerpts available at Google Books.
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