Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Captain's Paradise

Alec Guinness in The Captain's Paradise (1953)

About a year ago, I mentioned this five-movie Alec Guinness set. It still seems to be available, but I don't know if they're running out of stock since it says there are only three left. Anyhow, I watched The Captain's Paradise off of it this morning.

The opening scene has Guinness being taken to a firing squad for execution, although it doesn't exactly say where. Cut to his funeral aboard a ship, with a Mr. St. James (Miles Malleson) interrupting. St. James asks the captain Ricco (Charles Goldner) about a nephew, one Henry St. James, who was supposedly the captain of the ship. Ah, but he was, and it turns out that it was Capt. St. James for whom they were holding the funeral.

Mr. St. James was asking about his nephew Henry because Henry was apparently searching for the secret to happiness, and Rico claims that Henry had in fact found that secret. So why the execution? Well, you'll have to watch the rest of the movie for that. At any rate, Henry's ship, the Golden Fleece, is a ferry running from Gibraltar to a place across the Strait of Gibraltar the name of which I didn't recognize. (Tangier would be the obvious choice since that's the big city, although the nearest port of call would actually be the Spanish exclave of Ceuta, and this would also explain the fact that the customs agents all speak Spanish.) In port, Henry has a wife in Nita (Yvonne de Carlo). She enjoys the night life, going out with Henry every time he's in port.

But then he goes back to Gibraltar. And when he gets back to Gibraltar, he goes home to his wife Maud (Celia Johnson). Yes, that's right, Henry has two wives, one in each port. And Maud is the exact opposite of Nita, in that she seems to be extremely domestic and the other half of what Henry wants in a wife. Now, as you can probably figure from a guy having two wives, you have to assume that somehow this is all going to be found out. And as it turns out, Ricco already knows about ti, but he seems to be the only person who knows. One day, Maud decides to go across the strait to Africa and suprise Henry, which is most certainly a surprise! It's up to Ricco to keep the two wives from finding out about each other.

I have to admit that I found The Captain's Paradise to be the weakest of the five movies in the set. In part that's because the other four are all so good, but the other part is that I found the movie to be meandering, with the type of main character I don't find particularly sympathetic. I've stated quite a few times that I don't really care for the plot line that has a character lying and then telling ever bigger lies to keep people from finding out. The Captain's Paradise isn't quite like that, but is a main theme. Something about the whole production just comes across as not quite right to me.

Of course, the box set contains those other four movies, so if it's still in stock for you, you could do worse to get those four movies at a good price. And who knows; maybe you'll enjoy The Captain's Paradise a lot more than I did.

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