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The Admirable Crichton (1968)

A group of people are shipwrecked when their yacht runs around on a South Pacific island. The usual hierarchy in an upper-class British family breaks down quickly when it becomes apparent ... See full summary »



(play), (adaptation)
Nominated for 2 Primetime Emmys. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Norman Barrs ...
The Officer
Pamela Brown ...
Lady Brocklehurst
Edward Cicciarelli ...
Richard Easton ...
Ernest Woolley
Christina Gillespie ...
Estelle Kohler ...
Lady Agatha
Lady Mary
Lord Loam
Carrie Nye ...
Lady Catherine
Ralph Purdom ...
Lord Brocklehurst


A group of people are shipwrecked when their yacht runs around on a South Pacific island. The usual hierarchy in an upper-class British family breaks down quickly when it becomes apparent that only the servant Crichton is capable of surviving on his own and he becomes the community's leader. Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

2 May 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hallmark Hall of Fame: The Admirable Crichton (#17.4)  »

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Did You Know?


The original Broadway production of "The Admirable Crichton" by J.M. Barrie {on which the screenplay was based} opened at the Lyceum Theater on November 17, 1903, ran for 144 performances with William Gillette {famous for his Sherlock Holmes plays and portrayal} in the title role. The play was revived on Broadway in 1931. See more »

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User Reviews

From the man who gave us Peter Pan
20 February 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

James Barrie's literary fame has never disappeared, but it has shrunk terribly. Although of late this seems to be changing, in reality it is still grounded on one work of his. He wrote the novel and then the play PETER PAN, immortalizing Peter, Wendy, her brothers, the lost boys, Captain Cook, Smee, the pirate crew, Tiger Lily and the Indians, and Tinker Bell the fairy. The recent film about how Barrie created the play was a success last year - but it remains firmly in place dealing with the one story everyone recalls Barrie created.

Forgotten, of course, is the various novels about Scottish life that gave him his early literary reputation. Best of these was THE LITTLE MINISTER, which was turned into a successful early movie with Katherine Hepburn. He also wrote other successful West End plays, such as DEAR BRUTUS (which was an early starring work for Helen Hayes), and this play: THE ADMIRABLE CRICHTON. Yet Barrie's plays (pace PETER PAN) are rarely produced - especially on television.

The original "Admirable Crichton" was a figure in Elizabethan England, who had made a name for himself as a scholar (especially of languages), courtier, lover, minor writer, and adventurer, before he was killed in a fight in the late 16th Century. Ironically the term "the admirable Crichton" which was to complement the man for his achievements survived his actual achievements, so that he is but a footnote today. But the phrase now means (when it is used) that the person to whom it is applied is quite a clever and capable fellow in several fields.

Barrie took this to examine society and it's hypocrisy. Lord Loam (Laurence Naismith) is an outspoken "Liberal" peer of the realm who talks a great deal about equality and democracy. But his daughter (Virginia McKenna) is going to be married to another aristocrat soon. But first Loam and his family are going on a short vacation to the south seas. With them is the family butler, Crichton (Bill Travers), who is extremely capable to do all sorts of things that his betters just take for granted. He has good executive and organizational abilities as well. But he is from a class that produces butlers. Moreover he is supposedly engaged to one of the parlor-maids.

The family and Crichton board a chartered yacht. Ah, but it is sunk in a collision off a deserted island, and while everyone survives the social order does not. Crichton is the only one in the group who knows how to survive. When some of the men try to put him in his place, he knocks them down firmly putting them in theirs. Soon Crichton is ruling the group and the island, and his Lordship and the others are his vassals. This includes Lady Mary (McKenna) who finds she and Crichton are in love. The turning point comes when their is a possibility of rescue: will Crichton send the signal or let it pass to continue his uninterrupted reign over his mental inferiors.

It was only shown once, and I recall the performances were good, especially McKenna and Travers (fresh from their film triumph in BORN FREE). One hopes it is released again one day - revivals of all of Barrie aside from PETER PAN are still quite rare.

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