An adaptation of H.G. Wells' "The Island of Dr Moreau", "Island of Lost Souls" stars Charles Laughton as Moreau, Richard Arlen, as the hero and Bela Lugosi as one of Moreau's creations.
Edward Parker (Arlen) was on his way to meet his fiancée when the ship he was in sank. The sole survivor, he is saved by a merchant ship on its way to Moreau's island, with a cargo of wild animals. However being a reckless hero he antagonises the captain who leaves him with the cargo in the hands of Moreau...
Laughton is a pleasure to watch. He plays Moreau with a camp delight which surpasses even his Nero in DeMille's "The Sign of the Cross". In a sense, in 1932 Hollywood and in Laughton's hands, the film becomes a duel between the evil gay man and the straigh hero, played rather blandly by Arlen (who I saw to much better effect recently in "Beggars of Life"). Arlen's character recklessness is just a way to assert his macho heterosexuality, as his is "must get to my fiancée" constant speech. Unsuprisingly, the hero's victory is more due to the intervention of others (the Panther Woman) than his own, as he can't stop and think (as it probably affect his street cred). Moreau's demise reminded me of that of another gay man in cinema, the ever faceless Sebastian Venable in "Suddenly, Last Summer". I wonder if Tennessee Williams got inspiration here for his play (or for that matter, Gore Vidal, who co-wrote the script with Williams).
Arthur Hohl held his strong against Laughton and Kathleen Burke was allowed to show some female sexuality (with the pale excuse of being not exactly human), while the rest of the cast (Lugosi included) is pretty indifferent.