Pacific Destiny

Pacific Destiny is a 1956 British drama film directed by Wolf Rilla and starring Denholm Elliott, Susan Stephen and Michael Hordern.[2] The screenplay concerns a young British couple who win the respect of the inhabitants of a South Pacific island during the colonial era.[3]

Pacific Destiny
British theatrical poster
Directed byWolf Rilla
Produced byJames Lawrie
Written byRichard Mason (screenplay)
Jack Lee (adaptation)
Based onbook A Pattern of Islands by Sir Arthur Grimble
StarringDenholm Elliott
Susan Stephen
Music byJames Bernard
CinematographyMartin Curtis
Edited byJohn Trumper
Lawrie Productions Limited
British Lion Films Limited (in association with)
Shepperton Studios, England
Distributed byA British Lion Release (UK)
Release date
  • 5 June 1956 (1956-06-05) (London, UK)
Running time
96 mins[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom

It was based on A Pattern of Islands, a memoir by Sir Arthur Grimble recounting his time in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands as a cadet officer and Resident Commissioner in the 1920s.[4][5]

Film credits show Samoa as the filming location.[6]


The true story of inexperienced District Officer Cadet Arthur Grimble (Denholm Elliott) who arrives with his bride Olivia (Susan Stephen) on a remote Pacific island to work in the Colonial Service. He finds it hard to meet the approval of his superior, the Resident Commissioner (Michael Hordern), who had been expecting a more experienced man. The harder Grimble tries to please him, the more things seem to go awry, and he soon finds himself banished to a smaller neighbouring island. Olivia though is not as easily discouraged as her husband by the situation, and lends her support in a way that eventually meets with the approval of the island people.


Critical reception

Leonard Maltin called it a "Boring (but true) story";[7] TV Guide again, though praising the performances of Elliott and Hordern, called it "a routine and boring story with a pretty picture backdrop":[6] and British Pictures noted "A pleasant bit of colonial travelogue, most notable for being Britain's first fiction film in Cinemascope."[8]


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