It's the 25th anniversary of the Pasifika Festival, and RNZ's film guy, Dan Slevin has been delving into the films set in the Pacific over the last few decades... and has concluded that Hollywood has had some rather strange ideas about this region.
Here's Dan's full list of films set in, or about the pacific region
Exotic Silents/Noble Savages
Lost and Found on a South Sea Island (1923) - Tahiti/Pago Pago
Venus of the South Seas (1924) - Annette Kellerman as a pearl diver. Actually shot in Nelson, NZ, by a US company.
Sadie Thompson (1928) - Pago Pago - Gloria Swanson (also made as Rain in 1932 with Joan Crawford and musical Miss Sadie Thompson in 1953 with Rita Hayworth)
Moana (1926) - Samoa - Flaherty now restored
RNZ's Standing Room Only recently did a feature on the restoration of this silent era classic.
White Shadows in the South Seas (1928) - Tahiti for real! Flaherty again
South Sea Rose (1929) - based on a stage play called La Gringa!
Tabu: A Story of the South Seas (1931) - Bora Bora. Non-white cast. Murnau/Flaherty again.
Girl of the Port (1930) - Fiji
The Hurricane (1938) - "Manakoora" - John Ford. Remade in 1979 with Mia Farrow - shot on Bora Bora.
Pagan Love Song (1950) - Tahiti - Esther Williams, Rita Moreno. Shot on Hawaii.
Stranded on a Desert Island
Swiss Family Robinson (1960) - Disney
The Blue Lagoon (1980) - Brooke Shields
Cast Away (2000) - Tom Hanks
Seven films (!) including The Mutiny of the Bounty (1916) - Aus/NZ now lost Maori actors playing Tahitian; In the Wake of the Bounty (1933) - Errol Flynn; Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) - Clark Gable; Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) - Marlon Brando; The Women of Pitcairn Island (1956); Mutiny on the Bunny (1950)
Mutiny on the Bounty (1962)
War in the Pacific
Sand of Iwo Jima (1948) - John Wayne visits Kiribati (via Paekakariki)
Hell in the Pacific (1968) - Palau
South Pacific (1958) - Rogers/Hammerstein possibly Vanuatu
Laughing at us not with us
Her Jungle Love (1938) - "South Seas" prob Tahiti. Dorothy Lamour as a female Tarzan-type (including chimpanzee!) rescued by Ray Milland
The Devil at 4 o'clock (1961) - (nr Tahiti) - Spencer Tracy/Frank Sinatra
Donovan's Reef (1963) - "Heleakaloha, French Polynesia" but actually Hawaii - John Wayne
How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965) - Tahiti
Six Days, Seven Nights (1998) - Harrison Ford
Bula Quo! (2013) - Fiji. The rock band Status Quo unwittingly get involved with the Fijian mafia
The Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978) - Stacy Keach, Ursula Andress - set in New Guinea but actually shot in Sri Lanka
Rapa-Nui (1994) - Easter Island
Films actually from the Pacific…
Sons for the Return Home (1979) - NZ/Samoa
Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree (1990) - NZ/Samoa
Sione's Wedding, Sione's 2, No. 2, The Tattooist
The Land Has Eyes (2004) - Fiji
The Orator (2011) - Samoa
Three Wise Cousins (2015) - Samoa
Tanna (2015) - Vanuatu. Academy Award nominee this year.