The Blue Lagoon (1949 film)

The Blue Lagoon is a 1949 British romance and adventure film produced and directed by Frank Launder, starring Jean Simmons and Donald Houston. The screenplay was adapted by John Baines, Michael Hogan and Frank Launder from the novel The Blue Lagoon by Henry De Vere Stacpoole. The original music score was composed by Clifton Parker and the cinematography was by Geoffrey Unsworth.

The Blue Lagoon
Lobby card
Directed byFrank Launder
Produced bySidney Gilliat
Frank Launder
Written byNovel:
Henry De Vere Stacpoole
Screenplay:
John Baines
Michael Hogan
Frank Launder
StarringJean Simmons
Donald Houston
Noel Purcell
James Hayter
Cyril Cusack
Music byClifton Parker
CinematographyGeoffrey Unsworth
Edited byThelma Connell
Distributed byGeneral Film Distributors (UK)
Universal Pictures (USA)
Release date
1 October 1949 (1949-10-01)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

The film tells the story of two young children shipwrecked on a tropical island paradise in the South Pacific. Emotional feelings and physical changes arise as they grow to maturity and fall in love. The film has major thematic similarities to the Biblical account about Adam and Eve.

Plot

In 1849, Emmaline Foster and Michael Reynolds, two British children, are the survivors of a shipwreck in the South Pacific. After days afloat, they are marooned on a lush tropical island in the company of kindly old sailor Paddy Button. Eventually, Paddy dies in a drunken binge, leaving Emmaline and Michael all alone with each other. Together, they survive solely on their resourcefulness and the bounty of their remote paradise.

In 1852, 3 years later, Emmaline and Michael become a tanned and very thin children couple who think like wild animals and live completely naked. Eventually, their relationship, more along the lines of brother and sister in their youth, blossoms into love and then passion. Emmaline and Michael have a baby boy, and they live together as common-law husband and wife, content in their solitude. But their marriage is threatened by the arrival of two evil traders, who force Michael to dive for pearls at gunpoint, before killing each other off.

Emmaline is reminded of the outside world and wants to leave the island. She fears for the child if she and Michael should die and begins to think of his future. Michael finally gives in to her pleading and they pack a small boat and leave the island. But becalmed in the middle of the ocean, they succumb to exposure. They are found by a British ship, but the film leaves their fate ambiguous.

Cast

ActorRole
Jean SimmonsEmmaline Foster
Donald HoustonMichael Reynolds
Susan StranksEmmaline (younger)
Peter Rudolph JonesMichael (younger)
Noel PurcellPaddy Button
James HayterDr. Murdock
Cyril CusackJames Carter
Nora NicholsonMrs. Stannard
Maurice DenhamShip's Captain
Philip StaintonMr. Ansty
Patrick BarrSecond Mate
Lyn EvansTrotter
Russell WatersCraggs
John BoxerNick Corbett
Bill RaymondMarsden

Background and production

The film was an adaptation of a novel which had been filmed in 1923.

Herbert Wilcox bought the rights to the novel in 1935 and announced he would make it as part of a slate of films.[1] It was going to be shot in color in Honolulu.[2]

However, he did not make the film and sold them to Gainsborough Pictures at the recommendation of Frank Launder, who always admired the novel.[3] Gainsborough announced the film in 1938 as part of a slate of 10 films.[4] The stars were to be Michael Redgrave and Margaret Lockwood who had just appeared in Gainsborough's The Lady Vanishes; Will Fyffe was to co-star.[5][6] In 1939 it was announced Gainsborough would make the film as a co-production with 20th Century Fox and that Lockwood would co-star with Richard Greene, under contract to Fox.[7] Plans to make the film were postponed due to the war.[8]

The project was reactivated after the war and announced in 1947 with Frank Launder attached to direct.[9] Extensive location searches were undertaken before deciding to make the movie in Fiji.[10]

Plans to make the film were postponed due to Britain's currency difficulties, but eventually plans were re-activated.[11]

Changes from novel

The evil traders were invented for this film and are not part of the novel.

Casting

Jean Simmons was attached to the project at an early stage off the back of her success in Great Expectations (1946).[12]

Donald Houston was selected as the male lead over 5,000 applicants, 100 of whom were screen-tested.[13]

Shooting

The film was shot on location in Fiji, Yasawa Islands,[14] and at Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England.

In December, a light plane carrying Leslie Gilliat, the producer and brother of Sidney Gilliat crashed into a river near Suva. Both Gilliat and the pilot escaped unharmed.[15]

Simmons left England in November, spent some time in Australia and then travelled to Fiji.[16][17] There was some doubt she would be let into Fiji, as she was only 18 and the Fijian colonial regime was contemplating a ban on people under 19 into the country as a precaution against polio being introduced.[18]

Huston and Simmons narrowly escaped injury in Fiji when their car overturned.[19]

The bulk of filming in Fiji took place on the Yasawa Islands. Storms caused shooting to take three months.[20]

Reception

The film was the seventh most popular movie at the British box office in 1949.[21][22]

Other versions and sequel

  • The film was remade in 1980 starring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins. The updated version of The Blue Lagoon, directed by Randal Kleiser, included nudity and sexual content, although not as much as the book.
  • The updated version was followed in 1991 by the sequel Return to the Blue Lagoon, starring Milla Jovovich and Brian Krause. Although the sequel bears a strong similarity to the 1980 film, it bears very little resemblance to Stacpoole's second novel, The Garden of God. The pearl-greedy traders do not appear in Stacpoole's original novel. However, in Stacpoole's third novel, The Gates of Morning, a pair of sailors attack the people of a nearby island for pearls after seeing a woman wearing a double pearl hair ornament, as Emmaline does in the 1949 film.
  • A "contemporary remake" of The Blue Lagoon was made for television in 2012. Called Blue Lagoon: The Awakening, it depicts two contemporary teenagers (played by Indiana Evans (Emmaline Robinson) and Brenton Thwaites (Dean McCullen)). The male lead from the 1980 film, Christopher Atkins, appears in this film as one of the teachers on the shipborne field trip where Emma and Dean are lost at sea and end up on an island.

See also

References

  1. "HERBERT WILCOX'S PROGRAMME". The West Australian. 52 (#15, 542). Western Australia. 17 April 1936. p. 2. Retrieved 10 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  2. "BRITISH FILMS". The Sydney Morning Herald (#30, 504). 9 October 1935. p. 14. Retrieved 10 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  3. "FEMININE INTEREST". Warwick Daily News (#9124). Queensland, Australia. 1 November 1948. p. 3. Retrieved 19 August 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  4. "BRITISH FILM PRODUCTION". The West Australian. 54 (#16, 213). Western Australia. 17 June 1938. p. 9. Retrieved 10 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  5. "Will Fyffe's Next". The West Australian. 54 (#16, 255). Western Australia. 5 August 1938. p. 3. Retrieved 10 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  6. ""The"Blue Lagoon" In Technicolor". The Advocate. Tasmania, Australia. 24 June 1938. p. 9. Retrieved 10 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  7. "Here's Hot News From All Studios!". The Australian Women's Weekly. 6 (#35). 4 February 1939. p. 5 (The Movie World). Retrieved 10 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  8. "New Plays From English Studios". The Mercury. CLI (#21, 492). Tasmania, Australia. 14 October 1939. p. 5. Retrieved 10 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  9. "Films". The Sun (#11621). Sydney. 24 April 1947. p. 6 (LATE FINAL EXTRA). Retrieved 10 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  10. "British Film News". The Sydney Morning Herald (#34, 204). 7 August 1947. p. 10. Retrieved 10 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  11. "FILM NEWS AND GOSSIP". Truth (#3010). Sydney. 28 September 1947. p. 58. Retrieved 10 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  12. "and From". The Mail. 35 (#1, 806). Adelaide. 4 January 1947. p. 9 (Sunday Magazine). Retrieved 10 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  13. "FILM FLASH CABLE". The Sunday Times. Perth. 21 December 1947. p. 12 Supplement: The Sunday Times MAGAZINE. Retrieved 7 July 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  14. "Jean Simmons Goes Native", cover story, Illustrated magazine 15 January 1949
  15. "Film Plane Crashes at Suva". Kalgoorlie Miner. 53 (#13, 171). Western Australia. 23 December 1947. p. 5. Retrieved 10 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  16. "Weather Delays British Film Star In Brisbane". The Sydney Morning Herald (#34, 305). 3 December 1947. p. 3. Retrieved 10 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  17. "Jean Simmons, British Film Star, Here." The Argus (#31, 599). Melbourne. 10 December 1947. p. 4 (The Argus Woman's Magazine). Retrieved 10 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  18. "Paralysis Precautions May Stop Work On Film". The Chronicle. 90 (#5, 114). Adelaide. 24 December 1947. p. 5. Retrieved 10 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  19. "British Star of "Blue Lagoon" In Car Capsize". The Age (#28918). Victoria, Australia. 1 January 1948. p. 1. Retrieved 10 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  20. "DELAY IN FILMING OF "BLUE LAGOON"". Tweed Daily. XXXV (#41). New South Wales, Australia. 17 February 1948. p. 6. Retrieved 10 October 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  21. "TOPS AT HOME". The Courier-Mail. Brisbane. 31 December 1949. p. 4. Retrieved 24 April 2012 via National Library of Australia.
  22. Thumim, Janet. "The popular cash and culture in the postwar British cinema industry". Screen. Vol. 32 no. 3. p. 258.
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