Monday, 23 May 2011

South of Pago Pago 1940

McGoff didn't have much use for modern Vancouver. According to him it has a sort of Pango Pango quality mingled with sausage and mash and generally a rather puritan atmosphere. Under The Volcano

I am always intrigued by Malc's references to places and why they crop up. His own explanation for Pango Pango is as follows:

Pango-pango quality a quality vaguely of the South Seas, pertaining to Vancouver. Pango-pango is the capital of somewhere in the South Seas, maybe it is Pago-pago, but Pnago-pango is sadder or more amusing or something. Hugh evidently thinks. The reference is to the amount of rainfall which Vancouver, like Pango-pango, is very heavy. Letter to Clemens ten Holder 23rd April 1953.

As ever with Malc - he managed to spell the place incorrectly! Could he have had the 1940 film South of Pago Pago in mind while he was writing Under The Volcano?

SOUTH OF PAGO PAGO (1940: Scoundrels search for precious pearl bed off the coast of tropical island. South Seas adventure starring Jon Hall, Victor McLaglen, Francis Farmer, Olympe Bradna, Gene Lockhart, and others. Directed by Alfred E. Green Atlas Visuals Checkout the Atlas Visuals site for more "jungle" genre films.

Here is a clip whic I love set in a bar with sailors and a prostitute - how appropriate for Malc:

While researching this post I came across a host of images relating to the South Seas which seems to have gripped the American imagination in the 1940s and 1950's including reference to Pago Pago. So it is possible that the island slipped into Malc's imagination through this route?

The above image is from an interesting website Arkiva Tropika: An online archive of my paper ephemera collection, Arkiva Tropika celebrates not just Polynesian Pop, but also the classic heyday of all tropical (& tropical themed) restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, bars, cocktails, etc.

The above also has resonance for Under The Volcano because Yvonne is originally from Hawaii which has always made me wonder why Malc chose that island?

To finish off the post you can view a 1944 travelogue featuring the South Seas:

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