Admirable Crichton, The (1957)

The Admirable Crichton (1957), directed by Lewis Gilbert.

Aka Paradise Lagoon. From the play by J.M. Barrie, now remembered only for Peter Pan.

Crichton is the perfectly proper butler. He knows his place and would never step outside of it. His employer, Lord Loam, is a Radical who wants the servants and aristocracy to mix and socialize. His commitment to equality is tested when one of his daughters is arrested at a suffragette rally.

In Act 2, Lord Loam, his three daughters, two suitors, Crichton and chambermaid Tweeny are shipwrecked in the south seas. Since he is the only one with any survival sense, Crichton politely but firmly points out that he should be running things.

Jump to two years later. Crichton is now the "Guv" and everyone else works for him. They have built a Gilligan's Island paradise with bamboo huts and hot running water. Everyone works hard and is happy. The women are all in love with Crichton and the men with Tweeny.

But: what will happen when they are rescued? Has the topsy turvy experience changed them, or does life go on as before?

It's all charming and pretty wry. I don't know what the moral would be, except: "You can't fight civilization."

The island scenes were filmed in Bermuda.

I've seen it announced, but I can't find that this was ever released on DVD in North America. My disc is a region 2 PAL import. The image is pretty bad. The DVD is slightly narrower than 1.33 and the IMDB says VistaVision 1.96:1. Obviously we need a new effort here.

Later: Twilight Time produced a much improved Blu-ray edition and I've updated the thumbnails.

Julie Kirgo's booklet described this as Downton Abbey meets Gilligan's Island. I wish I'd thought of that.

The IMDB now has the aspect ratio as 1.75. It looks like 1.66 to me, very common in British and European films then.

Heavy grain, as in the original film, I suspect.

I showed this to a friend and he said it was either the saddest happy ending, or the happiest sad ending he had ever seen.