A major influence on John Milius' The Wind and the Lion (Milius would even cast its leading child actress, Deborah Baxter, in his film), Alexander Mackendrick's film of A High Wind in Jamaica is a little too safe for too much of its running time to really capture the heart of childish darkness of the novel. It starts well with the white family praying to God and their black servants sacrificing a chicken in a voodoo ceremony as they both shelter from a fierce storm in the basement of their plantation building, setting up the conflict not just between different cultures but also the generations with the innocent and indifferent fascination children have with the things their elders find most repellent. Yet when they find themselves accidental hostages of Anthony Quinn and James Coburn's pirates, their childish games driving the superstitious crew ever closer to mutiny and the story closer to tragedy, it's somewhat undermined by the fact that these pirates are a surprisingly passive and well behaved lot. Yet when it finally does move into darker waters, it's surprisingly powerful and effective, and there's a real sense of loss to the ending. If the film occasionally threatens to go all Disney on you and isn't up to the standard of Mackendrick's best work, it does share his understanding of how children really behave with films like Mandy, and it also features a surprisingly beautiful full orchestral score by Larry Adler.
Eureka's DVD has a fine widescreen 2.35:1 (Fox's US NTSC DVD also includes a panned-and-scanned fullscreen version) and trailer.