In his first effort at directing a feature-length film, William (Ted) Kotcheff, best-known for movies like The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, does an excellent job in making this drama effective. He is helped in no small part by James Mason as Brett Aimsley, a sophisticated, at-ease former junior partner in a brokerage firm, and John Mills as Lt. Col. Clifford Southey, a former clerk in that same company.
During the war, the lieutenant carries his sense of inferiority from his peacetime job as a clerk with him. So when he has a chance to nail Brett (a junior officer now) for trying to bring some censored goods back into London, he takes the chance and Brett is drummed out of service. Brett heads for Tahiti and a pretty good life in the sun, until Clifford shows up on the island with big plans to build a hotel — bringing with him the same defensive attitude.