Jan 8, 2012

The Girls from Paradise Island (1953)

In 1945, the final year of World War II, British administrator Roger Halyard raises his three daughters, Hester, Violet and Gloria, with the help of their nanny Thelma, on Pleasure Island, a small island in the South Pacific. One day, when the girls are late for dinner, Roger finds them swimming nude in a nearby stream, and the normally kind father vigilantly forbids them from continuing their childish habit. That evening, Roger explains that 1,500 American Marines will be landing on the island to build an airstrip the next morning, posing a unique problem because the girls are the only white women on the entire island. Despite their father's concern, the girls are filled with curiosity about the men. Late that night, Roger tries to engage Thelma in a conversation about the girls's limited experience with men, but she assures him that his daughters know the "facts of life" from their mission work. Later, Hester, the eldest, finds her father reading poet Rudyard Kipling, and she adeptly quotes his favorite passage about the love for one's homeland. Although Roger was schooled in England, he regards the island as his homeland. Hester assures him that the island is her home as well. Meanwhile, youngest sibling Gloria catches her sister Violet kissing herself in the mirror to practice kissing men and admits she is also curious about love. After Hester joins them, the three decide if they will "swoon" or "struggle" when they are first kissed. When the men start landing the next morning, Roger and the girls take an open carriage into town to greet the troops, but find themselves surrounded by hundreds of men cheering and whistling at the girls, who relish the attention. Ordering his daughters to remain in the carriage, Roger meets with Lt. Jimmy Gilmartin and Col. Reade and complains about the men's ungentlemanly behavior, but Reade reminds him that the men have not seen a woman in eighteen months. Later at the house, Roger finds a crowd of enlisted men "window shopping" outside his daughters' window, entreating the girls to come down. When Jimmy and Capt. Beaton arrive for a meeting with Roger, they order the men to disperse, but not before Hester, Violet and Gloria encourage the men's flirtatious behavior. Soon after, Gloria spots a young private with a handful of flowers and motions for him to meet her at the landing. At first, the clumsy eighteen-year-old Henry Smith shyly backs away from Gloria but, after a brief conversation, dares to kiss her. Meanwhile, Violet, under the pretense of letting the cat out, joins her father's meeting with Jimmy and Beaton, who gladly welcome the interruption. Soon, even sensible Hester joins them. Unable to control his daughters, Roger agrees to let Violet give Beaton a tour of the house, but soon catches the captain with traces of Violet's lipstick on his cheek as gratitude for a gift of stockings. Meanwhile, Jimmy ask Hester for a kiss in trade for stockings, but she keeps her distance from him. Even Gloria has received stockings and bubblegum, which she proceeds to pop in her father's face. Thoroughly annoyed, Roger later warns the girls that the Marines will soon leave the island and forget about them. Three weeks later, with the airstrip construction underway, the girls have become regulars at the base, while Thelma is entertaining Reade with her feminine wiles. Roger soon learns that the women are holding a party for the Marines at the house in a few days. As their romance blossoms, Hester questions Jimmy about his experience with women. He assures her that she is special and invites her to come home to Chicago with him, but Hester knows she will remain on the island like her father. When Jimmy inquires about her mother, Hester explains that although Roger claims she is dead, the girls know she left Roger for another man after Gloria was born. Later when Roger finds the couple relaxing on the beach, Jimmy, to whom Hester has given Kipling's book, quotes Roger's favorite passage to assure Roger he understands how much the island means to him. Roger returns to the house to find Violet entertaining a group of Marines with a playful but teasing tealeaf reading. Roger accuses Violet of being brazen, but Violet explains that she is flirting with them all to avoid falling in love with any of them and warns him that Hester loves Jimmy. She then reveals to her father that the girls know the truth about their mother and love him for not wanting to hurt them. The next evening, all the girls are excitedly preparing for the party, while on base Beaton urges Jimmy to take his advice about love affairs: "love 'em and leave 'em." Soon after, Henry tells Jimmy that he has a sweetheart in Iowa and asks him to explain the situation to Gloria for him. Suddenly, Reade reports that the troops will move out the next morning and sends Jimmy to convey the Marines' regrets to the Halyards. After making the announcement to the family, Jimmy takes Hester aside, professes his love and promises to return for her. Hester promises to wait for him. In the middle of the night, Thelma and Roger discover that Gloria has gone with Henry to say her goodbye. While they are driving in his jeep, Henry attempts to tell Gloria the truth but runs out of gas. When Gloria suggests that they kiss while waiting for help, Henry flashes her a picture of his fiancée. Gloria is so infuriated she chases Henry around the jeep, childishly yelling at him never to call her his "honey" again. The next morning, Roger coldly greets the couple when they arrive at the house. Henry offers to marry Gloria just as Roger ascertains that no indiscretion has taken place. Gloria refuses the offer and tells Henry that she hopes to find a man with the "same chivalry without previous commitments." Months later after the war is over, Pleasure Island is once again a tranquil, scarcely populated island. Despite receiving no letters from Jimmy, the lonely Hester refuses to give up hope. The family has planned a trip to England, but Hester is reluctant to leave in case Jimmy should return. While walking along the beach to the dock where they will begin their overseas journey, Hester spots a lone figure running toward her. Soon Jimmy calls out to her and they rush into each other's arms.

Although this movie was made in '53, it was about WWII. I LOVED the fashions and it was in color. It also explored how those women who were 'left behind' felt when their 'men' went off to war. The setting looked very much Hawaiian :) but was actually made on Paramount's Backlot.

Comedies, Dramas, Romantic Movies, Romantic Comedies, Military Dramas, Romantic Dramas
This movie is:
Sentimental, Romantic 
Suzianne's rating: 


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