Aloha Bigotry & Prejudice

Charlton Heston plays a controlling plantation owner tapped for state politics in the well-meaning Diamond Head. Set against the backdrop of newly admitted Hawaii as America’s 50th State in 1959, the dated film explores the consequences of prejudice from rich to poor as it destroys the lives of everyone involved. The forbidden romance between a young white woman from a powerful family and her native Hawaiian lover fuel an intense tale with epic Hollywood pretensions.

Richard “King” Howland (Charlton Heston) is a wealthy land owner in Hawaii, a domineering figure in the new state. Widowed with no children, King is deeply protective of his much younger sister Sloane (Yvette Mimieux) who has recently returned to their family’s palatial estate after graduation. She has fallen madly in love with native Hawaiian Paul Kahana, a friend of the family, and plans to marry him. Their love affair deviates from King’s grander expectations for her future.

Diamond Head is a quaint relic of the early 1960s, engaging in the civil rights debate from a different angle with mixed results

Having been tapped as a future U.S. Senator given his status in Hawaii, Howland becomes deeply upset at the idea of Sloane marrying Paul and refuses to give them his blessing. He goes behind their backs hoping Paul’s much more successful older brother Dean (George Chakiris) will talk some sense into the young couple. King’s bigotry against their romance also reveals his blatant hypocrisy as the influential man carries on a secret love affair with Mai Chen (France Nuyen).

Based on a 1960 novel by Peter Gilman, Diamond Head is searing drama about class differences and racial prejudice, laid out in a web of hypocrisy and forbidden love. The antiquated epic has oddly incestuous undertones, confirmed in a memorably shocking montage from director Guy Green. Character development is superb with a great cast mixing things up. The scenic landscapes and Hawaiian culture are nicely handled in the production, super charging the romance and complicated family dynamics.

The biggest issue with Diamond Head is pacing, which flows beautifully for its first two acts and then skips what seems like several key developments in the back half. There’s simply too much story to fit in its running time under two hours. Told in an epic manner befitting Charlton Heston’s pedigree, today Diamond Head would have been turned into a much longer mini-series made for television.

Hollywood fell in love with Hawaii when it became a new state, possibly aided by generous tax credits hoping to introduce its natural wonders to Americans. Diamond Head is a quaint relic of the early 1960s, engaging in the civil rights debate from a different angle with mixed results.

Charlton Heston is Charlton Heston and Yvette Mimieux is great as a naively innocent ingenue whose passionate love sweeps her up into sorrow and bitterness. This isn’t an essential Hollywood classic but it provides a different perspective on the challenges facing Hawaii’s integration as the 50th state.


Imprint licenses their HD transfer from Sony for the 1962 movie, making its Blu-ray debut in a serviceable but underwhelming effort. Filmed using Eastmancolor stock, Diamond Head’s intended 2:35:1 aspect ratio enjoys showing off Hawaii as a backdrop.

Technically the 1080p video represents an older film scan struck from serviceable, if unrestored, elements with mild processing on top. On the softer side with some detail rolled off, the color palette is fairly robust with an even contrast.

The main feature runs 106 minutes on a BD-25, encoded in a sufficient AVC encode. It handles the thick grain structure with no problems. Black levels are quite firm with fine shadow delineation capturing even darkened exteriors in crisp fashion.

Ringing is partially evident, reflecting artifacts baked into transfers more commonly found in the DVD era. The first couple film reels are a little worse off for wear, displaying weaker definition.


Diamond Head’s 2.0 monaural PCM soundtrack is perfectly adequate, reflecting a 1962 Hollywood recording. The big lure is one of the first Hollywood scores ever from a young John Williams, before he would become a superstar scoring everything from Star Wars to Superman. It’s heard in comfortable dynamic range with minimal distortion or heavy compression. Dialogue is rather sharp, even in crowd scenes.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font, outside the scope presentation.


Guy Green’s Diamond Head is issued on Blu-ray for the first time anywhere in the world by Imprint out of Australia, #272 in their collection. No special features are included on the region-free disc.

Like their other releases, Diamond Head arrives in a glossy slipcase, limited to 1500 units. Given the state of Sony’s current transfer, it’s hard believing Diamond Head will receive an improved release during the physical media era.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

Diamond Head
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Epic drama about forbidden romance and prejudice starring Charlton Heston and Yvette Mimieux set in a gorgeous Hawaii

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 44 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots ripped directly from the Blu-ray:


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