Paradise Lagoon (1957)
In 1905, Lord Henry Loam, his family and his servants are shipwrecked on a deserted island where the survival of the fittest renders the rigid class system irrelevant.
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 between maid Tweeny, the class system is put to the test.
It's 1905, and wealthy Londoner, Lord Henry Loam, believes that all men should be treated equally, despite he having a mansion full of subservient staff. Lord Loam decides to host an afternoon tea to where his upper crust family, their equally upper crust friends and his household servants are all invited and are to be treated equally. But because no one else feels the same as him - which includes most specifically his eldest adult daughter, the snobbish Lady Mary, who expects all her manual labor needs to be provided by servants; his head butler, Crichton, who knows his rightful place within the centuries old British class system; and some of the lower staff, such as Cockney Eliza, who doesn't know how to act around "proper" people - in combination with another of his daughters, Lady Catherine, being arrested for being a suffragette, the tea is an abject failure. To let the scandal die down, Crichton suggests that Lord Loam and his family take a trip on their yacht. However, in the process, the yacht breaks down in a storm and the family which includes Lord Loam, his three daughters, and two of their beaus are shipwrecked on a deserted island. Also shipwrecked along with them are Crichton and Eliza, now nicknamed "Tweeny" because of her position within the household staff. Lord Loam's theories and actual beliefs are further put to the test in this new society of eight people, where skill and knowledge become overly important if only for sheer survival. If they are ever to be rescued, can their island experience be transferred back to the set British class system?
Thinking that the time has come for his family to get away from London and have a bit of a holiday - one of his daughters, a suffragette, has just had and encounter with the police - Lord Loam takes them off on their yacht for a South Seas cruise. Along is Chrichton the family's butler who can seemingly anticipate all of his master's wishes. After a violent storm, they find themselves marooned on a deserted island. Initially, the aristocratic Lord Loam sees himself as being in charge. After two years on the island, the social structure has been upended. Chrichton, the most able at survival in the wilderness, is now the leader of the group and he and Lady Mary, Loam's eldest daughter, are very much in love and about to be married. The arrival of a ship has consequences for all of them.
- A butler, Crichton (Kenneth More), wakes his master Lord Henry Loam (Cecil Parker), a fabulously wealthy English aristocrat with liberal views. The Lord decides that he will hold a tea for everyone in the household, including the many servants, with everyone mixing as equals. Crichton disapproves of the idea, but obeys and the tea is organised. Lord Henry's three beautiful and unmarried daughters are supposed to attend, but one avoids the event by going for a drive into London with her aristocratic boyfriend. The tea is not a success. The servants are embarrassed, and their masters find it all very awkward. Especially haughty is Lord Henry's eldest daughter Lady Mary (Sally Anne Howes). Things are brought to an abrupt end when the telephone rings, and the word arrives that Lord Henry's absent daughter has been arrested for knocking off a policeman's helmet at a suffragette march. The formidable Lady Brocklehurst (Martita Hunt) blames his Lordship's liberal views.
The unflappable Crichton suggests to his master that if he were to take a long cruise in his massive luxury yacht, by the time he returned, society would have forgotten the shame of his daughter's arrest. Lord Henry is persuaded, and a trip to the south Pacific is organised.
The yacht's engines explode during a storm, and both of its lifeboats are launched. Crichton is the calmest man aboard and realises that Eliza Tweeny (Diane Cilento), a junior servant, has been forgotten in the rush to the lifeboats, and returns alone to rescue her, having by this time already formed an attachment with her. The two servants then dive overboard and swim to the nearest boat, which contains their masters. When criticised for being in the wrong boat, Crichton offers to withdraw.
In the morning, there is no sign of the other lifeboat, but land is soon sighted. The boat lands and Crichton sets off inland to find help, entrusting the two aristocratic young men in the party to look after the boat. When he returns with the news that they are on a deserted island, he discovers that one of the men had mistaken a turtle for a rock, and tied the boat to it, and that the boat has been lost.
Very quickly it becomes apparent that the only person on the island with any idea of how to survive there is Crichton. Only he can make fire and build shelters. Tweeny is clearly falling in love with him.
A ship is sighted, but this turns out to be the abandoned yacht, which then crashes into the island and half sinks. Crichton is the only swimmer strong enough to get to it, and by now even one of the aristocratic women is starting to admire him. He returns with many practical items such as cloth, sewing kits, and cooking gear. The aristocrats complain that they have no decent clothes to wear and no respectable dinner service, and order him to rescue them from the ship. That night, Crichton serves up coconut for the third time for supper. When his masters complain, he points out that he had rescued the things they asked for, and not food. Enraged at this, they give him the sack, and Tweeny leaves with him.
The next day, the aristocrats try and fail to cook, hunt, and build shelters. They are miserable at supper time, and then notice the smell of cooking pork coming from the next cove. Going there, they find Crichton and Tweeny enjoying a nice meal of meat, and all but the most haughty, Mary, accept that Crichton is the man to be with.
Back in England, Lady Brocklehurst unveils a memorial statue of Lord Henry in his hall. It has been two years since his ship was lost, and he has been presumed dead.
Back on the island, we see a servant entering a well-made thatched hut which has a sign "Government House" on it. The light is allowed to enter the window, and the master stirs... it is Crichton! The sun shines, and we see that under Crichton's leadership the settlement has flourished. They have running water, huts, hot baths, abundant fruit, and Lord Henry is now acting as butler to his former butler. Crichton still keeps up certain standards, shaving every day. Everyone is happy, but for the fact that their love-lives have not been sorted out. There are four men and four beautiful women on the island, but all the women long to marry their leader Crichton. A beacon stands ready in case a ship is sighted, but no one wants to leave. Crichton has ordered everyone to build a boat to his design, but they are deliberately working slowly on the project, because they don't want to escape.
Lady Mary has now fallen in love with Crichton. She has transformed into a Diana-like huntress, and wanders the island barefoot with her bow hunting birds and deer. She finds Crichton diving for pearls, a dives in from a great height to join him. He declares his love for her.
That night, they celebrate their second year on the island, and at the feast, Crichton announces his intent to marry Mary. Tweeny is heart-broken. However, all the other men on the island are lusting after Tweeny.
Soon after, the wedding is organised, and since one of the aristocrats there is a vicar, a legal ceremony can start. Before the final vows are taken, however, a Royal Navy ship is sighted. Mary pleads for the beacon to be left unlit, but a saddened Crichton decides that he has to light it.
Lord Henry, home-sick for news of London, bounds down to the beach to greet the landing sailors. To everyone's amazement, Crichton appears soon afterwards in his butler's uniform, bearing a tray, and having resumed his servile manner.
Back in England, a ball is held to celebrate the return of the castaways. Lord Henry is maintaining a fiction that he was the leader of the group. One of the aristocratic young men meanwhile has written a book which has been published, and which hardly mentions Crichton at all. They both are terrified that Crichton will reveal them to be frauds, but Crichton is impeccably behaved. Lady Mary still wants to be the wild woman, and is still in love with Crichton. Lady Brocklehurst senses that the book she has read is a work of fiction, and summons all the castaways together and interrogates them. Without lying, Crichton to the amazement of all answers her questions without giving away the truth that he was the chief of the island.
Crichton announces that he will leave Lord Henry's service, much to his Lordship's relief. Lord Henry says that he will go over to the Tories. Crichton shows his master that he has a stash of huge pearls, which should set him up in business. He leaves, taking Tweeny with him. Lady Mary is desolate. Tweeny is delighted.