Return to Paradise (1953 film)

Return to Paradise is a Technicolor South Seas drama film released by United Artists in 1953.[2][3] The film was directed by Mark Robson and starred Gary Cooper, Barry Jones and Roberta Haynes. It was based on a short story, "Mr. Morgan", by James Michener in his short story collection Return to Paradise, his sequel to Tales of the South Pacific. It was filmed on location in Matautu, Western Samoa (present-day Samoa).[4]

Return to Paradise
Theatrical poster
Directed byMark Robson
Produced by
Screenplay byCharles Kaufman
Based onReturn to Paradise
1951 novel
by James A. Michener
StarringGary Cooper
Barry Jones
Roberta Haynes
John Hudson
Music byDimitri Tiomkin
CinematographyWinton C. Hoch
Edited byDaniel Mandell
Aspen Productions
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • July 10, 1953 (1953-07-10) (United States)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.8 million (US)[1]


During the 1920s, itinerant American beachcomber Mr. Morgan (Gary Cooper) is deposited on the island of Matareva in the South Pacific. When he decides to stay he is confronted by Pastor Cobbett (Barry Jones), who lost both his father and his wife as a young missionary on the island. Cobbett rules Matareva as a Puritanical despot, using local bullies as "wardens" to enforce his rules. "Morgan Tane" stays on Matareva by winning the support of the natives after he defeats the wardens with the aid of an empty shotgun. Morgan has an illegitimate child, Turia (Moira Walker), by island girl Maeva (Roberta Haynes). After Maeva's death in childbirth, the distraught Morgan departs the island, leaving Turia behind with her grandmother.

Morgan returns to Matareva during World War II, where he reconciles with Cobbett, who has become a friend and teacher to the islanders, and meets Turia. She falls in love with an American Air Force pilot, Harry Faber, after he crash-lands his cargo plane in the lagoon. An interesting irony is that when Morgan first arrived, Cobbett tried to force him to leave the island lest he get an island girl pregnant. Now he faces the same thing when Faber tries to seduce his daughter, Turia, as a diversion while awaiting pickup by the Navy. Morgan intervenes and makes Faber leave and his crew leave, using the same empty shotgun as an inducement. When Turia forgives him, Morgan decides to remain with her on Matareva.



The title song "Return to Paradise," by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington, was featured in the soundtrack. It has been recorded by artists including Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby and Shirley Horn.

Home media

Return to Paradise was released on DVD on December 31, 2009, as part of the MGM Limited Edition Collection series.


  1. 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1953', Variety, January 13, 1954
  2. Dixon, Wheeler Winston (1993). Early Film Criticism of Francois Truffaut. Indiana University Press. p. 148. ISBN 9780253113436. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  3. Stanley, David (2004). Moon Handbooks South Pacific. David Stanley. p. 55. ISBN 9781566914116. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  4. Glimpses of Micronesia & the Western Pacific. Glimpses of Guam Incorporated. 1982. p. 29. Retrieved 17 June 2019.
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