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Gavin Greig [userpic]

In Search of the Castaways

May 16th, 2005 (10:34 pm)

Complete tosh, of the very finest kind.

This is a film adaptation of another Jules Verne story I've never read, made by Disney in 1962. The lead character is a young Hayley Mills as Mary Grant, whose father, Captain Grant, has been lost at sea for some time at the start of the movie.

With the help of fast-talking, shark-fishing Professor Jacques Paganel (Maurice Chevalier), Mary and her brother convince shipping magnate Lord Glenarvan (Wilfrid Hyde-White) and his son that it's worth following up the message in a bottle that was extracted from a shark. Apparently they've been inundated with bottles containing messages ever since they offered a reward for information.

I hope you're keeping up as we go into the spoiler section...

Perhaps it will give a flavour of this film if I tell you that the adventure begins with a trek into the Andes, where the party are abandoned by their native guides. It turns out that the locals are afraid of earthquakes, and on cue that evening an earthquake destroys the ancient stone hut they are sheltering in. Stepping outside just before it disintegrates around their ears, they are just in time to fall off the mountain on the colossal overhang outside the hut. Falling to the snow below, it becomes an outsize toboggan, skating past perilous precipi*, over a snow-bridge that collapses as it passes, and then through the water-cut passages beneath a glacier. En route, the massive boulder splits in two - with part of the party on each half, of course - and dangerous manoeuvring ensues, ending with both lumps crashing in exciting but ultimately fairly safe manners. Well, if safe includes danger of suffocation for Mary, who is buried head first, and high-speed impact for her brother, who unfortunately misses the ground at point-blank range and carries on over one of those precipuses* I mentioned earlier. Good news: he's saved by a condor. Bad news: it wants him for the kiddies' lunch. Good news: it's shot by a mysterious third party. Bad news: it's quite high at the time. Good news: the mysterious native with a gun happens to be an expert in condor anatomy as well as marksmanship, and shot it in the head so it would glide down, rather than the heart, which would have made it plummet. (Did I mention it was tosh? But at this stage who cares!)

The native knows that there are three ship-wrecked sailors being held in a village a few days across the plain, and offers his tribe's help in retrieving them. That night, they are overtaken by a flash-flood, the native escapes with the horses and the rest are left marooned in a tree surrounded by a new lake as far as the eye can see. A jaguar jumps on board from a passing log and eyes them up hungrily, alligators patrol beneath, and lightning strikes, turning the tree into a blazing inferno. An alligator eats their message in a bottle, and the jaguar deftly nicks the raft they built to escape on.

It is shortly after this that they discover they've started off on the wrong continent entirely.

I love the pace and confidence of this film. It's got a running time of only 94 minutes, but it's got more adventure than any Bond film, it's got humour, it's got first love, it's got Maurice Chevalier and Hayley Mills singing (with different degrees of ability but equal charm), it's got earthquakes, floods, storms, precipodes*, dangerous animals, marooning, erupting volcanoes, gun runners, trapeze artistry, exploding ropes and it's got dear old Wilfrid Brambell as a spritely, cackling, wild haired loon - "Now, be I crazy, or be I smart?" - who chews the carpet to excellent effect.

I laughed, I cried (well, to be honest, I laughed some more), I hurled... a cushion in the air in joy. Why isn't this film a recognised classic - of sorts? Every GM should see this film at least once.

* Anyone know what the plural of precipice actually is?

Comments

Posted by: a_cubed (a_cubed)
Posted at: May 16th, 2005 10:28 pm (UTC)
Plural of precipice

Since my etyomological dictionary (isn't a reasonable set of reference books a joy) precipice isn't a latin word per se, but is derived from Latin praecipitium. According to my knolwedge of englihs, the plural is therefore precipices. only actual foreign words (particularly Latin ones) have their own plurals. Everything else just gets an added "s".

Posted by: a_cubed (a_cubed)
Posted at: May 16th, 2005 10:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Plural of precipice

Bugger, should have spell-checked. That should have been etymological dictionary.

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: May 16th, 2005 10:48 pm (UTC)
Re: Plural of precipice
South Park

Sounds plausible. Having a natural aversion to precipices, doubtless I was doomed to spell it incorrectly.

Posted by: Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures)
Posted at: May 16th, 2005 11:36 pm (UTC)

I've an idea I saw it in 1962... What I remember of it agrees with what you've described - about the most action-packed film I can rememeber seeing at that age.

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: May 17th, 2005 06:06 am (UTC)

I picked it up on a cheap DVD from Woollies because of the Jules Verne tag, never having seen it before. Money well spent, I felt.

Posted by: silverwhistle (silverwhistle)
Posted at: May 17th, 2005 09:31 am (UTC)
Interesting...

Have never actually seen it, probably because I tend to avoid anything involving Hayley Mills (a reaction anyone with recollections of Disney's 'Pollyanna' may understand!)!

Posted by: Nik Whitehead (sharikkamur)
Posted at: May 17th, 2005 10:09 am (UTC)

Sounds fantastic - I shall endeavour to pick up the same cheap DVD when I get back home next month.

Posted by: Vilebody the Merciless (vilebody)
Posted at: May 17th, 2005 03:24 pm (UTC)

I have seen this, I can't remember when, but it probably involved BBC 2 and trying to avoid revision for GCSEs or A levels, as it was long enough ago to not remember it without prompt, but near enough to remember that it was enormously enjoyable.

I probably shouldn't admit this, but I actually quite like most Hayley Mills films!

Posted by: msinvisfem (msinvisfem)
Posted at: May 17th, 2005 06:25 pm (UTC)
It does sound thrilling.
Ms Out of SP

I wonder if Lemony Snicket* has seen this movie... (Too bad Mr. Snicket couldn't get some writing pointers from you.** I mean, you made a Disney film sound exciting!)



* I have no idea what the real name is of the author of A Series of Unfortunate Events.
** Snicket's stories tend to be insipid and obvious. The only unfortunate thing about Snicket's stories is that they got so much publicity from the movie version of the first three books - which was good!

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: May 17th, 2005 11:02 pm (UTC)
Re: It does sound thrilling.
Chair

the movie version ... was good!

Despite having Jim Carrey in it?

Posted by: msinvisfem (msinvisfem)
Posted at: May 18th, 2005 07:50 am (UTC)
Re: It does sound thrilling.
Ms Out of SP

the movie version ... was good!

Despite having Jim Carrey in it?


I normally don't care for Jim Carrey in any of his acting roles (though I do like him as a sketch comedian - most notably as a cast member of In Living Color) in this case though, I think he made an excellent Count Olaf. My reasoning being that cannon CO could mainly be described as egotistical and flamboyant which would make Mr. Carrey a perfect choice for the movie part. :-) Digging aside, I think he did a good job as CO because the character did fit in with his style of (sketch) acting.

And were you correcting my grammar? (If you were I guess I don't mind but it would be nice if I could grasp the syntax rule you were using so I don't make the same mistake again.)

Posted by: msinvisfem (msinvisfem)
Posted at: May 18th, 2005 07:58 am (UTC)
Strike that.

And were you correcting my grammar? (If you were I guess I don't mind but it would be nice if I could grasp the syntax rule you were using so I don't make the same mistake again.)

I really shouldn't be on LJ right after night shift because obviously I can't tell when someone is quoting... :-/

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