High Barbaree


1h 31m 1947
High Barbaree

Brief Synopsis

A downed pilot looks back on his life as he awaits rescue in the South Pacific.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Action
Release Date
May 1947
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel High Barbaree by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall (Boston, 1945).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 31m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

In Hawaii, during World War II, U.S. Navy flyer Alec Brooke is unexpectedly reunited with his boyhood friend and former sweetheart, Nancy Fraser, who is now a Navy nurse serving in the Pacific theater. In the brief time they have to spend together, Nancy and Alex re-establish their romance and decide to marry when the war is over. A short time later, Alec's plane is hit by enemy fire, and he and his co-pilot, Lieutenant Joe Moore, are forced to make an emergency landing on the ocean. While stranded for days on the open sea without radio contact or fresh water, Alec tries to keep up his spirits by thinking about Nancy and his happy childhood in the small town of Westview, Iowa. Alec remembers the time when he dreamt of becoming a doctor, and when his eccentric, uncle Thad Vail, announced that he was leaving Westview to go on an expedition to find the fabled Pacific island of High Barbaree. When Alec comes out of his reverie, he and Joe consult their maps and realize, to their astonishment, that they are within one hundred miles of the area where High Barbaree is believed to be. While setting a course for the mythical island, Alec tells Joe about Thad's homecoming, which coincided with Alec's eleventh birthday: Soon after he returns to Westview, Thad decides to leave for the Gulf of Mexico, where he will be far away from Della Parkson, a spinster who wants to make a husband out of him. Alec and Nancy join Thad on his sailboat but the three get only as far as a nearby town, as Thad gets drunk and winds up in jail. Thad asks Nancy and Alec to telegram home for money to bail him out, but Alec decides to raise money for the bail himself by appearing in The Marlowe Bros. circus. While Alec performs in the circus, Thad's bail is paid by Alec's father, who enlists Thad's help in finding the missing children. Mr. Fraser eventually finds Alec and Nancy at the circus and brings them home. When the Frasers move to Montana, Alec and Nancy bid a tearful farewell and vow to reunite someday on High Barbaree. After concluding his story about his boyhood, Alec tells Joe about the time, many years later, when he dropped out of medical school to become an executive at an airplane manufacturing company: While working at the Case plant, Alec becomes engaged to Diana Case, his boss's daughter. Nancy, whom he has not seen in ten years, visits Westview, and Alec takes her to a big party at the Cases' home. Nancy is heartbroken when Diana's father announces the engagement of his daughter to Alec, and when Alec refuses to admit that he is only marrying Diana to further his career. Alec rejects Nancy's assertion that he would make a fine doctor until a tornado strikes Westview and forces him to use his medical training to save the lives of many of the injured townspeople. After realizing that medicine is his true calling, Alec breaks his engagement to Diana and plans to marry Nancy. Alec's decision comes too late, however, as Nancy has left Westview to marry a Navy man who had proposed to her earlier. Moments after Alec concludes his story, Joe succumbs to the effects of dehydration and dies. Alec, weakened by the heat, loses consciousness and dreams that he has arrived on High Barbaree. When he awakens, he finds himself in a military hospital attended by Nancy, who had decided not to marry the Navy man, and whose premonition about his whereabouts resulted in Alec's rescue. Nancy nurses Alec back to health, and they look forward to a happy future together.

Cast

Van Johnson

Alec Brooke

June Allyson

Nancy Fraser

Thomas Mitchell

Capt. Thad Vail

Marilyn Maxwell

Diana Case

Cameron Mitchell

Lieut. [Joe] Moore

Claude Jarman Jr.

Alex, age 14

Henry Hull

Dr. Brooke

Geraldine Wall

Mrs. Brooke

Barbara Brown

Della Parkson

Paul Harvey

John Case

Charles Evans

Colonel Taylor

Audrey Totter

Voice of "Tokyo Rose"

Chill Wills

Lars

Joan Wells

Nancy, age 12

Gigi Perreau

Nancy, age 5

James Hunt

Alec, age 2

Stanley Andrews

Farmer

Jess Cavin

Farmer

Ransom Sherman

Mr. Fraser

Ida Moore

Old woman

Lee Phelps

Workman

Paul Kruger

Workman

Dick Rush

Baggage man

Phillip Morris

Baggage man

Robert E. O'connor

Station master

Sam Mcdaniels

Bertram

Steve Olsen

Barker

Paul Newlan

Truckman

Robert Skelton

Truckman

Tim Ryan

Ringmaster/Gans

Florence Stephens

Mrs. Fraser

Florence Howard

Mrs. Case

Lois Austin

Secretary

Lew Smith

Groundman

Mahlon Hamilton

Ned Flynn

Helyn Eby-rock

Helper

Ruth Brady

Young aide

George Travell

Man in slicker

Pietro Sosso

Old man

Paul Dunn

Boy

Linda Bieber

Girl

Howard Mitchell

Conductor

Paul Martell

Bernadino

Mitchell Rhein

Vendor

Phil Dunham

Vendor

Drew Demarest

Vendor

Mike Pat Donovan

Vendor

Bob Rowe

Vendor

Henry Sylvester

Vendor

Phil Friedman

Vendor

Don Anderson

Co-pilot

Frank Wilcox

Co-pilot

Milton Kibbee

Waiter

Harry Tyler

Bartender

Larry Steers

Major

Bruce Cowling

Captain

Clarke Hardwicke

Young man

Al Kikume

Tangaroa

William Mckeever Riley

Office boy

Frank Pharr

Vendor at circus

Anton Northpole

Vendor at circus

George Magrill

Vendor at circus

Harry Wilson

Vendor at circus

William Tannen

Officer of the deck

Bert Davidson

Navy, 1st officer

Robert Gardett

Navy, 2d officer

Jeffrey Sayre

Night Officer of the deck

Carl Saxe

Marine sergeant

Donald S. Lewis

Marine sergeant

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Action
Release Date
May 1947
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel High Barbaree by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall (Boston, 1945).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 31m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

High Barbaree


The film High Barbaree (1947) takes its name from the island on which a WWII pilot crashes after his plane is shot down. To distract himself from his desperate situation, he relays his life story to his injured lieutenant via a series of flashbacks. Released in 1947, High Barbaree stars Van Johnson as the pilot and June Allyson as his loyal love interest and features some impressive special effects by A. Arnold Gillespie. And if you think that tornado looks familiar in the air base storm sequence, it's because it's stock footage from The Wizard of Oz (1939).

High Barbaree was the second of five collaborations for Johnson and Allyson, both contract actors with the MGM stock company; together the two were considered the embodiment of the wholesome couple of the post-WWII era. They first appeared in Two Girls and a Sailor in 1944, followed by High Barbaree, then The Bride Goes Wild (1948), Too Young to Kiss (1951), and finally in Remains to be Seen (1953). Although in real life the two were just friends, MGM's publicity department worked overtime to convey a different impression. The studio arranged official dates and public events for the two to attend, even providing limousines for important occasions. The two were so inextricably linked that joint Van Johnson-June Allyson fan clubs were created.

The truth is Johnson and Allyson did have a lot in common. In addition to being stock actors, they both got their break as theatrical understudies. When Betty Hutton was stricken with measles during a run of Panama Hattie, Allyson filled in with what would be her first big break. Director George Abbott cast her in his next musical, Best Foot Forward, and Allyson made her screen debut in the 1943 film version. Curiously enough, Abbott would also cast Johnson as the understudy to the three male leads in Too Many Girls. When one left to get married, Johnson stepped into his role; he would later be cast as a bit player in the 1940 film version.

Allyson's trademark timbre was the key to her contract with MGM. Producer Joe Pasternak convinced studio head Louis B. Mayer to sign her on because of her distinctive voice. In her autobiography, Allyson writes that Pasternak pleaded, "Please look at this screen test and do just two things. Look at her eyes and listen to her voice. Don't pay any attention to anything else about her. Those are distractions we can iron out." The huskiness of her voice was actually due to medical reasons, specifically, chronic bronchitis and enlarged vocal chords. Johnson playfully referred to her voice as "million dollar laryngitis".

Johnson experienced medical problems of his own during the filming of his breakthrough movie, A Guy Named Joe (1943), also starring Spencer Tracy, a long-time idol of Johnson. On his way to a screening of the latest Tracy flick, The Keeper of the Flame (1942), Johnson's convertible was badly wrecked in an accident. The actor's injuries were so severe that a metal plate was implanted in his head. MGM wanted to replace him with another actor, but Tracy insisted on halting the production until Johnson had recovered, a decision that would propel Van to stardom upon the film's release.

Besides Johnson and Allyson, High Barbaree also features some solid performances from the supporting cast, particularly Thomas Mitchell and Henry Hull. Mitchell is considered one of the most impressive character actors in American film; his roles include Scarlett O'Hara's father in Gone with the Wind (1939) and Uncle Billy from It's a Wonderful Life (1946). His performance as the alcoholic doctor in Stagecoach (1939) earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. As for Hull, he initially established his reputation as a leading man during the silent era, but is probably best known to horror fans for Werewolf of London (1935), his first starring role in talking pictures. His greatest accomplishment, however, was his performance as Jeeter Lester in the stage version of Tobacco Road.

Producer: Everett Riskin
Director: Jack Conway
Screenplay: Anne Morrison Chapin, Whitfield Cook, James Norman Hall (novel), Cyril Hume, Charles Nordhoff (novel)
Cinematography: Sidney Wagner
Costume Design: Irene
Film Editing: Conrad A. Nervig
Original Music: Herbert Stothart
Principal Cast: Van Johnson (Alec Brooke), June Allyson (Nancy Frazer), Thomas Mitchell (Capt. Thad Vail), Marilyn Maxwell (Diana Case), Cameron Mitchell (Lt. Joe Moore).
BW-91. Closed captioning.

By Eleanor Quin

High Barbaree

High Barbaree

The film High Barbaree (1947) takes its name from the island on which a WWII pilot crashes after his plane is shot down. To distract himself from his desperate situation, he relays his life story to his injured lieutenant via a series of flashbacks. Released in 1947, High Barbaree stars Van Johnson as the pilot and June Allyson as his loyal love interest and features some impressive special effects by A. Arnold Gillespie. And if you think that tornado looks familiar in the air base storm sequence, it's because it's stock footage from The Wizard of Oz (1939). High Barbaree was the second of five collaborations for Johnson and Allyson, both contract actors with the MGM stock company; together the two were considered the embodiment of the wholesome couple of the post-WWII era. They first appeared in Two Girls and a Sailor in 1944, followed by High Barbaree, then The Bride Goes Wild (1948), Too Young to Kiss (1951), and finally in Remains to be Seen (1953). Although in real life the two were just friends, MGM's publicity department worked overtime to convey a different impression. The studio arranged official dates and public events for the two to attend, even providing limousines for important occasions. The two were so inextricably linked that joint Van Johnson-June Allyson fan clubs were created. The truth is Johnson and Allyson did have a lot in common. In addition to being stock actors, they both got their break as theatrical understudies. When Betty Hutton was stricken with measles during a run of Panama Hattie, Allyson filled in with what would be her first big break. Director George Abbott cast her in his next musical, Best Foot Forward, and Allyson made her screen debut in the 1943 film version. Curiously enough, Abbott would also cast Johnson as the understudy to the three male leads in Too Many Girls. When one left to get married, Johnson stepped into his role; he would later be cast as a bit player in the 1940 film version. Allyson's trademark timbre was the key to her contract with MGM. Producer Joe Pasternak convinced studio head Louis B. Mayer to sign her on because of her distinctive voice. In her autobiography, Allyson writes that Pasternak pleaded, "Please look at this screen test and do just two things. Look at her eyes and listen to her voice. Don't pay any attention to anything else about her. Those are distractions we can iron out." The huskiness of her voice was actually due to medical reasons, specifically, chronic bronchitis and enlarged vocal chords. Johnson playfully referred to her voice as "million dollar laryngitis". Johnson experienced medical problems of his own during the filming of his breakthrough movie, A Guy Named Joe (1943), also starring Spencer Tracy, a long-time idol of Johnson. On his way to a screening of the latest Tracy flick, The Keeper of the Flame (1942), Johnson's convertible was badly wrecked in an accident. The actor's injuries were so severe that a metal plate was implanted in his head. MGM wanted to replace him with another actor, but Tracy insisted on halting the production until Johnson had recovered, a decision that would propel Van to stardom upon the film's release. Besides Johnson and Allyson, High Barbaree also features some solid performances from the supporting cast, particularly Thomas Mitchell and Henry Hull. Mitchell is considered one of the most impressive character actors in American film; his roles include Scarlett O'Hara's father in Gone with the Wind (1939) and Uncle Billy from It's a Wonderful Life (1946). His performance as the alcoholic doctor in Stagecoach (1939) earned him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar. As for Hull, he initially established his reputation as a leading man during the silent era, but is probably best known to horror fans for Werewolf of London (1935), his first starring role in talking pictures. His greatest accomplishment, however, was his performance as Jeeter Lester in the stage version of Tobacco Road. Producer: Everett Riskin Director: Jack Conway Screenplay: Anne Morrison Chapin, Whitfield Cook, James Norman Hall (novel), Cyril Hume, Charles Nordhoff (novel) Cinematography: Sidney Wagner Costume Design: Irene Film Editing: Conrad A. Nervig Original Music: Herbert Stothart Principal Cast: Van Johnson (Alec Brooke), June Allyson (Nancy Frazer), Thomas Mitchell (Capt. Thad Vail), Marilyn Maxwell (Diana Case), Cameron Mitchell (Lt. Joe Moore). BW-91. Closed captioning. By Eleanor Quin

TCM Remembers Van Johnson - Important Schedule Change on TCM In Honor To Salute VAN JOHNSON


Turner Classic Movies Pays Tribute to Van Johnson on Tuesday, December 23rd with the following festival of films. This program will replace the previously scheduled movies for that day so please take note.

The new schedule for the evening of Tuesday, December 23rd will be:
8:00 PM In the Good Old Summertime
9:45 PM A Guy Named Joe
12:30 AM Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
2:30 AM The Last Time I Saw Paris
4:30 AM Thrill of a Romance


Van Johnson (1916-2008)

Van Johnson, the boyish leading man whose clean cut, All-American appeal made him a top box-office draw for MGM during World War II, died on December 12 in Nyack, New York of natural causes. He was 92.

He was born Charles Van Dell Johnson on August 25, 1916, in Newport, Rhode Island. By his own account, his early childhood wasn't a stable one. His mother abandoned him when he was just three and his Swedish-born father offered little consolation or nurturing while he was growing up. Not surprisingly, Johnson found solace in singing and dancing lessons, and throughout his adolescence, he longed for a life in show business. After graduating high school in 1934, he relocated to New York City and was soon performing as a chorus boy on Broadway in shows such as New Faces of 1936 and eventually as an understudy in Rodgers and Hart's musical, Too Many Girls in 1939.

Johnson eventually made his way to Hollywood and landed an unbilled debut in the film version of Too Many Girls (1940). By 1941, he signed a brief contract with Warner Bros., but it only earned him a lead in a "B" programmer Murder in the Big House (1941); his contract soon expired and he was dropped by the studio. Johnson was on his way back to New York, but as luck would have it - in the truest Hollywood sense - friends Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz introduced him to Billy Grady, a lead talent scout at MGM, which was currently Ball's new studio. Johnson was signed up and almost immediately MGM had a star on its hands.

It might have been slow going at first, with Johnson playing able support in films such as Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant and The War Against Mrs. Hadley (both 1942). By 1943 the studio capitalized on his broad smile and freckles and starred him in two of the studio's biggest hits: A Guy Named Joe and The Human Comedy. Those two films transformed him into a boxoffice draw with a huge following, particularly among teenage girls. A near fatal car accident that same year only accentuated the loyalty of his fans, and his 4-F status as the result of that accident created an opportunity for him when so many other leading actors of the era (James Stewart, Clark Gable) were off to war. Johnson was quickly promoted as MGM'sleading man in war heroics and sweet romancers on the big screen: The White Cliffs of Dover, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (both 1944), Thrill of a Romance, the episodic Week-End at the Waldorf (both 1945), and a musical remake of Libeled Lady entitled Easy to Wed (1946).

Hits though these were, it wasn't until after the war that Johnson began to receive more dramatic parts and better material such as supporting Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in the political farce State of the Union (1948). other significant roles included the well-modulated noir thriller The Scene of the Crime, the grim war spectacle Battleground (both 1949), the moving domestic drama Invitation (1952) in which he played a man who is paid to marry a woman (Dorothy McGuire) by her father. Before he left MGM, he closed his career out in fine form with the sweeping musical Brigadoon, co-starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse; and the lilting soaper The Last Time I Saw Paris (both 1954) with Elizabeth Taylor.

After he left MGM, the parts that came Johnson's way weren't as varied, but he had his moments in The Caine Mutiny (1954), the beguiling romance drama Miracle in the Rain (1956) with Jane Wyman; and his lead performance in one of the first successful made for-TV-movies The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1957). By the '60s, Johnson returned to the stage, and played the title role in London's West End production of The Music Man. He then returned to Broadway in the drama Come on Strong. He still had a few good supporting parts, most notably as Debbie Reynolds' suitor in Norman Lear's scathing satire on marital differences Divorce American Style (1967); and television welcomed his presence on many popular shows in the '70s and '80s such as Maude, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat and of course Murder She Wrote. There was one last graceful cameo in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), yet for the most remainder of his career, Johnson worked mainly on the dinner theater circuit before retiring from showbiz completely by the mid-90s. He is survived by a daughter, Schuyler.

by Michael T. Toole

TCM Remembers Van Johnson - Important Schedule Change on TCM In Honor To Salute VAN JOHNSON

Turner Classic Movies Pays Tribute to Van Johnson on Tuesday, December 23rd with the following festival of films. This program will replace the previously scheduled movies for that day so please take note. The new schedule for the evening of Tuesday, December 23rd will be: 8:00 PM In the Good Old Summertime 9:45 PM A Guy Named Joe 12:30 AM Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo 2:30 AM The Last Time I Saw Paris 4:30 AM Thrill of a Romance Van Johnson (1916-2008) Van Johnson, the boyish leading man whose clean cut, All-American appeal made him a top box-office draw for MGM during World War II, died on December 12 in Nyack, New York of natural causes. He was 92. He was born Charles Van Dell Johnson on August 25, 1916, in Newport, Rhode Island. By his own account, his early childhood wasn't a stable one. His mother abandoned him when he was just three and his Swedish-born father offered little consolation or nurturing while he was growing up. Not surprisingly, Johnson found solace in singing and dancing lessons, and throughout his adolescence, he longed for a life in show business. After graduating high school in 1934, he relocated to New York City and was soon performing as a chorus boy on Broadway in shows such as New Faces of 1936 and eventually as an understudy in Rodgers and Hart's musical, Too Many Girls in 1939. Johnson eventually made his way to Hollywood and landed an unbilled debut in the film version of Too Many Girls (1940). By 1941, he signed a brief contract with Warner Bros., but it only earned him a lead in a "B" programmer Murder in the Big House (1941); his contract soon expired and he was dropped by the studio. Johnson was on his way back to New York, but as luck would have it - in the truest Hollywood sense - friends Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz introduced him to Billy Grady, a lead talent scout at MGM, which was currently Ball's new studio. Johnson was signed up and almost immediately MGM had a star on its hands. It might have been slow going at first, with Johnson playing able support in films such as Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant and The War Against Mrs. Hadley (both 1942). By 1943 the studio capitalized on his broad smile and freckles and starred him in two of the studio's biggest hits: A Guy Named Joe and The Human Comedy. Those two films transformed him into a boxoffice draw with a huge following, particularly among teenage girls. A near fatal car accident that same year only accentuated the loyalty of his fans, and his 4-F status as the result of that accident created an opportunity for him when so many other leading actors of the era (James Stewart, Clark Gable) were off to war. Johnson was quickly promoted as MGM'sleading man in war heroics and sweet romancers on the big screen: The White Cliffs of Dover, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (both 1944), Thrill of a Romance, the episodic Week-End at the Waldorf (both 1945), and a musical remake of Libeled Lady entitled Easy to Wed (1946). Hits though these were, it wasn't until after the war that Johnson began to receive more dramatic parts and better material such as supporting Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in the political farce State of the Union (1948). other significant roles included the well-modulated noir thriller The Scene of the Crime, the grim war spectacle Battleground (both 1949), the moving domestic drama Invitation (1952) in which he played a man who is paid to marry a woman (Dorothy McGuire) by her father. Before he left MGM, he closed his career out in fine form with the sweeping musical Brigadoon, co-starring Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse; and the lilting soaper The Last Time I Saw Paris (both 1954) with Elizabeth Taylor. After he left MGM, the parts that came Johnson's way weren't as varied, but he had his moments in The Caine Mutiny (1954), the beguiling romance drama Miracle in the Rain (1956) with Jane Wyman; and his lead performance in one of the first successful made for-TV-movies The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1957). By the '60s, Johnson returned to the stage, and played the title role in London's West End production of The Music Man. He then returned to Broadway in the drama Come on Strong. He still had a few good supporting parts, most notably as Debbie Reynolds' suitor in Norman Lear's scathing satire on marital differences Divorce American Style (1967); and television welcomed his presence on many popular shows in the '70s and '80s such as Maude, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat and of course Murder She Wrote. There was one last graceful cameo in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), yet for the most remainder of his career, Johnson worked mainly on the dinner theater circuit before retiring from showbiz completely by the mid-90s. He is survived by a daughter, Schuyler. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

A September 1944 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that M-G-M paid a $40,000 advance for the screen rights to Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall's novel and agreed to make additional payments based on the book's sales. A June 1946 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Charles Schoenbaum briefly took over for cameraman Sidney Wagner when Wagner fell ill. According to a November 1946 Hollywood Reporter news item, a new ending for the picture was shot after a preview screening audience reacted negatively to seeing Van Johnson's character in heaven. Location filming took place in King City, Arcadia and San Diego, CA.