The Unsleeping Eye (1928)

Film details

Alternative titles

  • The Unsleeping Eye: A Pioneering Tale of New Guinea, the Last Stronghold of the Savage Alternative


John "Mad" Challoner strikes gold while mining in the remote and dangerous Basilisk Gully, New Guinea. Word spreads of the find, and mining engineer Dick Holloway tracks Challoner down and proposes they work together. Years of living rough amongst the headhunting indigenous tribes of New Guinea has driven Challoner to drink, and Holloway is a first world war veteran with one wooden hand. Despite these challenges, their partnership is successful and they make their fortune. When Challoner departs for a holiday in Sydney, Australia, he leaves Holloway in charge of his group of workers. Totems painted with the "unsleeping eye" and Challoner's threats of vengeful spirits keep neighbouring tribes from attacking his settlement. While he is away, several white men looking for gold try to mine in the Gully and are murdered by Papangi warriors. Challoner returns with his new wife, Marjorie, to find that his workers have fled and his home is threatened. Believing the "unsleeping eye" to be a false threat, the Papangi attack and Challoner and Holloway are vastly outnumbered. Challoner orders his wife and Holloway to run, and distracts the warriors by challenging their chief to a duel. Assuming Challoner has been killed, Marjorie and Holloway flee New Guinea. They return years later, on the eve of their own marriage, to the scene of the tragedy. They encounter the Papangi tribe once more, but their Chief gifts them Challoner's belongings and the gold, and guarantees them safe passage back to Port Moresby. Before they depart, a rival tribe shoots the Chief with a poisoned arrow. As he lay dying, the Chief reveals himself to be "Mad" Challoner, and the trio get the chance to say a proper goodbye.

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