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Gilbert and Sullivan (1953)

The Story of Gilbert and Sullivan (original title)
The common career of W.S. Gilbert,a barrister turned comic writer, and Arthur Sullivan, a classic composer turned converted against his will to light music, who wrote fourteen operettas between 1871 and 1896, to great public acclaim.


Sidney Gilliat


Leslie Bailey, Leslie Baily (book) | 2 more credits »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Morley ... William S. Gilbert
Maurice Evans ... Arthur Sullivan
Eileen Herlie ... Helen D'Oyly Carte
Martyn Green Martyn Green ... George Grossmith
Peter Finch ... Richard D'Oyly Carte
Dinah Sheridan ... Grace Marston
Isabel Dean ... Mrs. Gilbert
Wilfrid Hyde-White ... Mr. Marston
Muriel Aked Muriel Aked ... Queen Victoria
Michael Ripper ... Louis
Bernadette O'Farrell Bernadette O'Farrell ... Jessie Bond
Ann Hanslip Ann Hanslip ... Bride
Eric Berry Eric Berry ... Rutland Barrington
Yvonne Marsh Yvonne Marsh ... Second bride
Lloyd Lamble ... Joseph Bennett


The common career of W.S. Gilbert,a barrister turned comic writer, and Arthur Sullivan, a classic composer turned converted against his will to light music, who wrote fourteen operettas between 1871 and 1896, to great public acclaim.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A lush and joyous portrayal of the lives and the music of the men who entertained toe world for generations. See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

15 February 1953 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Gilbert and Sullivan See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

London Film Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Coincidentally, a poster outside D'Oyle Carte's office shows a caricature of Oscar Wilde; an actor plays Oscar Wilde briefly in another scene, and two of the male leads, Robert Morley and Peter Finch, would go on to play Oscar Wilde themselves in later movies. See more »


Referenced in Frasier: They're Playing Our Song (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

For they were such Englishmen
18 April 2013 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The film Gilbert And Sullivan came in for much of the same criticism that so many musical biographies coming out of Hollywood did. But when we went to see such work as Till The Clouds Roll By, Words And Music, and Night And Day, we were hardly seeing the real stories of Jerome Kern, Rodgers&Hart, and Cole Porter. Their work is what people went to see those films for and thus it is with Gilbert&Sullivan whom we were lucky to get them working in harness for as much as they did give us.

Robert Morley plays W.S. Gilbert the word half of the duo who started in life as a barrister, but I suspect the law probably bored him and he had a gift with a phrase and turned it into writing lyrics. Morley who was at his best playing such witty people as Oscar Wilde and James Fox was the best possible fit for Gilbert.

Arthur Sullivan is played by Maurice Evans who had ambitions to be a serious composer and he did compose some truly serious music like Onward Christian Soldiers for example. But these comic operas did pay the bills. Right at the beginning of the film there is a marvelous bit with Wilfrid Hyde-White who plays the father of Dinah Sheridan whom Evans is courting. She wants to be the wife of a celebrated serious composer, but dad just wants a son-in-law who can pay his own way, he does not want to wind up supporting genius as he put it. Sullivan never did marry, but the author of Onward Christian Soldiers was quite the ladies man including a rather lengthy affair with at least one married woman that went public.

Peter Finch plays D'Oyly Carte their producer who created the light opera company that bears his name and has first call on the works of Gilbert And Sullivan. Finch and wife Eileen Herlie must have felt more like referees than producers as they kept the two working in harness as long as they could.

And the heart of this film is the D'Oyly Carte company giving highlights of the various Gilbert And Sullivan comic operas which are loved in every part of the English speaking world. I've seen performances of HMS Pinafore and The Mikado myself and God willing I'll get to see others. The musical numbers are the heart of this film as they are in any American film about one of our persons of music.

The copy I rented looks like it has been restored, the color is quite nice. Good thing too, because Gilbert And Sullivan and their talent deserve the best.

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