Hawaii Calls

Watch Hawaii Calls

"An island paradise rings with song!"
  • Approved
  • 1938
  • 1 hr 31 min
  • 5.7  (89)

Hawaii Calls is a delightful musical adventure film from 1938 that captures the essence of escapism and the allure of tropical paradise during the golden age of Hollywood. Directed by the talented Edward F. Cline, this film features the immensely gifted child star Bobby Breen, who was known at that time for his crystal-clear soprano voice and charming screen presence. The movie is set against the gorgeous backdrop of Hawaii, which serves as both a stunning visual feast and an integral part of the story.

Bobby Breen plays the role of Billy Coulter, an adventurous and spirited young orphan who resides in San Francisco and dreams of going to Hawaii. Billy's life takes a dramatic turn when he stows away on a sea-bound ship to chase his Hawaiian dreams. This decision marks the beginning of a whimsical journey full of unexpected friendships, humorous encounters, and heartwarming moments.

Onboard the ship, Billy befriends a crusty but kind-hearted radio operator named Strings, played by Ned Sparks. Despite his rough exterior and tendency towards sarcasm, Strings becomes a guardian figure to Billy, helping him navigate the troubles that come with being a runaway on the high seas. Sparks's character adds a layer of wit and wisdom to the film, serving as a perfect counterbalance to Billy's youthful optimism.

The third pivotal character in this tropical tale is Captain O'Hare, portrayed by the consummate character actor Irvin S. Cobb. Captain O'Hare is the authoritative yet compassionate skipper of the ship, who discovers Billy's presence and must decide the boy's fate. Cobb's portrayal of the Captain is both warm-hearted and commanding, providing a sense of structure and order to the anarchic charm that dominates much of the narrative.

As Billy becomes entrenched in the daily life aboard the ship, he also finds an outlet for his remarkable singing talent through the ship's radio broadcasts. These performances captivate listeners across the Pacific, including those on the shores of Hawaii, placing Billy in the limelight and setting the stage for future opportunities.

Upon arriving in Hawaii, the film captivates its audience with the luscious landscapes, the swaying palm trees, and the enchanting sounds of the islands. The audience is introduced to a colorful cast of local characters who warmly welcome Billy and enrich his experience with the customs and traditions of Hawaiian culture.

The musical numbers in Hawaii Calls are among the most memorable highlights, bringing the magic of the islands to life through song. These performances include island classics and original compositions that are both lively and touching, showcasing Bobby Breen's remarkable vocal range and charismatic stage presence.

The narrative, while seemingly light-hearted and joyful, also touches upon themes of belonging, cultural exchange, and the universal desire for adventure. Through Billy's interactions with the ship's crew and Hawaiian locals, the film explores the idea of found family and reinforces the importance of community and connection, no matter where one might find oneself in the world.

Moreover, the film serves as a postcard from an exotic locale during a time when long-distance travel was a luxury few could afford. The cinematography takes full advantage of the stunning scenery, immersing the audience in the beauty of Hawaii's beaches, waters, and landscapes. The visuals are complemented by the strains of the Aloha Oe and other Hawaiian melodies, which are expertly woven into the film's narrative.

As Billy's journey unfolds, the viewers are treated to a tapestry of humorous and heartwarming situations, which reveal life lessons about courage, tenacity, and the power of dreams. The bonds of friendship and the spirit of aloha – the Hawaiian word for love, peace, and compassion – resonate throughout the film, delivering a timeless message that remains relevant and poignant.

Hawaii Calls is a family-friendly film that blends comedy, drama, and musical elements into a cohesive and enjoyable narrative. Its alluring portrayal of Hawaii, along with the standout performances of Bobby Breen, Ned Sparks, and Irvin S. Cobb, make it a cherished classic from an era when films sought to whisk audiences away to places as enchanting and vibrant as the islands themselves. Whether viewed as a slice of nostalgia or as a heartwarming tale of adventure during Hollywood's golden age, Hawaii Calls invites viewers to bask in the warmth and wonder of its tropical setting and the endearing story it tells.

Hawaii Calls
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 31 min
  • IMDB Rating
    5.7  (89)