The Girls of Pleasure Island


1h 35m 1953

Brief Synopsis

In the spring of 1945, World War II is coming to a close. Roger Halyard (Leo Genn), a dignified, strait-laced Englishmen, lives on a South Sea atoll with his three daughters, Gloria (Dorothy Bromley), Hester (Audrey Dalton) and Violet (Joan Elan), along with the housekeeper, Thelma (Elsa Lancaster), who has raised the girls since childhood. Other than their father, the girls have never seen another man. Halyard is informed that 1500 U.S. Marines will soon arrive to establish an air base on the island. Halyard is rather apprehensive over the prospect of his daughters, who have never met another man, being thrown together with 1500 Marines who haven't seen a woman in months.

Film Details

Also Known As
Pleasure Island
Release Date
Apr 1953
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Pleasure Island by William Maier (New York, 1949).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

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.

Film Details

Also Known As
Pleasure Island
Release Date
Apr 1953
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Pleasure Island by William Maier (New York, 1949).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title for the film was Pleasure Island. Voice-over narration throughout the film provides information about the American Marines' orders and their progress on airstrip construction, as well as some details about the sisters and their family. The three lead female sister roles were played by British actresses Dorothy Bromiley, Audrey Dalton and Joan Elan, who were given onscreen credit at the close of the film with a photograph identifying them as "New Paramount Personalities."
       According to a October 10, 1951 Los Angeles Examiner article, Robert Donat was considered for a starring role in the film. An February 8, 1952 Los Angeles Times article states that actor William Holden was cast in the role of "Gilmartin," but was later replaced by Don Taylor. A June 27, 1952 New York Times article states that director and author of the film's screenplay, F. Hugh Herbert, became ill in late June and was replaced by Alvin Ganzer, who had been the film's assistant director up to that point. It is unknown if Herbert returned to the production after his illness. Hollywood Reporter news item adds Charcie Garrett, Michael Moore and Margaret Brewster to the cast, but their appearance in the film has not been confirmed. Some stock footage of United States military operations is used in several sequences in the film.