Sunday, 6 May 2012

Review - The Admirable Crichton (Alternative title - Paradise Lagoon) (1957 - Dir. Lewis Gilbert)

As I started watching The Admirable Crichton I had an unusual feeling of deja vu. It's got Kenneth More in it. It involves the sinking of a ship. Mr More has to jump overboard and swim to a lifeboat. All the posh people whinge about not having their fancy clothes (cumberbunds, perhaps) and their accoutrements during a crisis. Yes, it's A Night to Remember except loads of people don't die horribly and it's pretty funny too.

Kenneth More plays the titular Cricthton, a butler in a well posh house. He plays the role completely straight and this makes the comedy work brilliantly. I chuckled. I chortled. I even had a little guffaw. Most of the jokes are at the expense of the silver spoon lickers or they are comments on the class system. It's always a treat to have a good laugh at rich people's misfortunes.

After their ordeal at sea, Crichton and the Lord's family end up on a desert island. Amazingly enough, the Lord has no idea how to survive and neither have any of his cronies. But Crichton does. When the rest of society is removed, what happens to the traditional roles? And what will happen if they manage to return to Blighty? Can one Butler beat the natural order of all things British? You'll have to watch it to find out.

Crichton, being a bit of a ladies man, has two on the go at once: the Tweeny (a servant played by the shockingly accented Diane Cilento, almost up there with Dick Van Dyke and Brion James) and the Lord's daughter, Mary (Sally Ann Howes). You're never quite sure which way he's going to go. Will he stick within his class or go for a bit of upper-class jiggery pokery? Choices, choices...

Unlike other films based on plays, (J.M.Barrie wrote the original) you don't really feel that you are watching a play that's been filmed. All in all, an enjoyable experience then. A timely reminder to respect and look after one's servants; one day they could save your life. Now Jeeves, bring my smoking jacket and my best pipe, after you've done that you can remove these blasted dangleberries.

If you like this you could try:
A Night to Remember, Reach for the Sky, Hobson's Choice, Sailor Beware.


  1. I really liked watching this film, some great acting in it by Cecil Parker, who was always good.

    1. I was quite pleasantly surprised by it too. It was interesting to see Cecil Parker change as his relationship with Crichton changed.