CAPTAIN’S PARADISE, THE(director: Anthony Kimmins; screenwriters: story by Alec Coppel/Alec Coppel/Nicholas Phipps; cinematographer: Ted Scaife; editor: G. Turney-Smith; music: Malcolm Arnold; cast: Alec Guinness (Capt. Henry St. James), Yvonne De Carlo (Nita St. James), Celia Johnson (Maud St. James), Charles Goldner (Chief Officer Ricco), Miles Malleson (Lawrence St. James), Walter Crisham (Bob), Nicholas Phipps (The Major), Bill Fraser (Absalom, taxi driver), Ferdy Mayne (The Sheikh), Sebastian Cabot (Ali, vendor); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Anthony Kimmins; Anchor Bay; 1953-UK)
“Disappointing lighthearted one-note sexual farce about a bigamist.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Anthony Kimmins (“Come on George!”/”Mine Own Executioner”/”Smiley”) directs and produces this disappointing lighthearted one-note sexual farce about a bigamist. It has its amusing moments but is done in by the poor material. The amoral cheat is played in a devilishly playful manner by Alec Guinness, but even his star power can’t rescue such a lame story line.
British Capt. Henry St. James (Alec Guinness) regularly sails on his steamer ferryboat between British Gibraltar and North Africa. He has a contrasting wife in each port, with the proper domestic homebody Brit wife Maud (Celia Johnson) in Gibraltar and the exotic carefree party wife, the native Nita (Yvonne De Carlo), in Ceuta, on the Spanish Moroccan coast. In the opening scene, Henry stands before a firing squad in Ceuta and is supposedly executed. Through a lengthy flashback we learn of the curious chain of events that brought him to his fate, as the story is related by Chief Officer Ricco (Charles Goldner), the Frenchman who is an ardent admirer of his captain, to Henry’s inquisitive uncle (Miles Malleson).
The wheels of deception come off of Henry’s blissful bigamist life when Nita now longs to be a conventional stay at home wife rather than hitting the night-spots dancing and drinking every night, while Maud now longs to get some excitement by dancing at the night-spots and not always staying at home doing household chores. Henry can’t adjust to these changes and schemes to make a grand exit from the lives of the women he once loved for what they were, but who have suddenly chosen new mates to meet their changed personalities.
It’s based on the story by Alec Coppel and is written by Coppel and Nicholas Phipps.
REVIEWED ON 5/5/2009 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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