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Shirley Anne Field,
Lord Loam has modern ideas about his household; he believes in treating his servants as his equals - at least sometimes. His butler, Crichton, still believes that members of the serving class should know their place and be happy there. But when the Loam family are shipwrecked on a desert island with the self-reliant Crichton and lady's maid Tweeny, the class system is put to the test. Written by
George S. Davis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The film was adapted into a musical entitled "Our Man Crichton" which premiered in London on December 21, 1964. Kenneth More repeated his film role of Crichton in the musical version. See more »
When land is first sighted, Tweeny has only one arm on the oar when the binoculars are passed to Crichton. In the next shot, when Crichton is looking through the binoculars, she has both arms on the oar. See more »
Father! He said Catherine has been arrested!
Great Scot! Good heavens, I don't believe it! My daughter arrested as a suffragette! That's what comes of all this darned equality!
See more »
Opening credits prologue: LOAM HALL ENGLAND 1905 See more »
Generally regarded as a tradiational song, but lyrics are sometimes attributed to James Yorkston with music arranged by Edmund Forman
Sung by Lord Loam on the island See more »
J.M. Barrie's 1902 play, THE ADMIRABLE CRICHTON, illogically and crudely renamed for its U.S. release PARADISE LAGOON in reference to the setting of Barrie's transformative second and third (of four) acts, treats such universal themes of natural leadership that it may well be one of the most successfully copied - dare one say plagiarized? - plots extant. It has been speculated that Barrie himself filched the idea of a group of privileged persons stranded on a deserted island from an 1896 German play, ROBINSON'S EILAND, where a secretary emerges as the leader.
In 1947, French playwright Andre Roussin (claiming to trace his story from a 1921 Catalan play, NEVERTHELESS CIVILIZED) reduced Barrie's assortment of shipwrecked privileged Britons and their servants to a mere handful to focus on one romantic triangle but retained Barrie's essential structure for his THE LITTLE HUT which proved almost as successful (and as frequently filmed) as the Barrie classic on both sides of the Atlantic. From 1964 to 1967, CBS Television in the U.S. mined essentially the same territory (if decidedly Americanized - transmuting a failed South Seas cruise to a disastrous "three hour cruise" out of Hawaii and reducing the sexual competition to favor the status/qualification competition humor which could be infinitely stretched out) with a situation comedy called GILLIGAN'S ISLAND.
While this 1957 (British) Columbia Pictures adaptation of the Barrie play inexplicably softens the overt sexual competition on the island for Kenneth More's Crichton's attentions between "name" performer Sally Ann Howes' Lady Mary and second billed Diane Cilento as the lower class "Tweenie" (a maid in training), it admirably presents the essentials of Barrie's play with the "perfect" British butler holding his "master's" household together both in England and on an isolated South Sea isle - while exploring how different qualities may bring different people to the fore under different circumstances.
The always perfect foil Cecil Parker as Lord Loam is excellent as the titular head of the British household who becomes a better man as he naturally falls into Crichton's role on the island and suffers great pangs when "normality" is restored on their return home. As uniformly solid as the entire cast is however, for many the standout performance will be Martita Hunt's (Lady Bracknell influenced) Lady Brocklehurst - a clear homage from Barrie to Oscar Wilde's greatest play, the 1895 IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. Lady Brocklehurst, protecting her "family name" before allowing her son to announce his engagement to Lady Mary, is determined to find out what *really* happened on the island. Her questioning - and the comic obfuscation which parries it - is right up there with Lady Bracknell's inquisition of Earnest prior to his engagement to Cecily in Wilde.
The final curtain of the film nicely preserves the tension for the audience Barrie wished as to how Crichton will actually wind up. It is said that Barrie himself toyed with an alternate ending with Crichton ending up in a more "romantic" liaison. Barrie came to the conclusion however, that his audience "would not stand it." It's hard to say today
either way it's a warm, bittersweet finish fully worthy of the
journey getting there.
It is also worth noting that the recent British DVD reissue of the film restores Kenneth More to the cover - the previously most available VHS release mistakenly boasted the handsomer supporting player (as the author Ernest Wooley) Gerald Harper on its cover as the "admirable Crichton" - at the moment a rescuing ship is sited. That "pan and scan" Columbia/Tristar VHS Home Video release also only offered the U.S. "PARADISE LAGOON" release, even though clearly labeled THE ADMIRABLE CRICHTON (the better known original title).
Either way, it's well worth a look - and inexcusable that this classic isn't more readily available for broad viewing today.
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