High Barbaree (film)

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High Barbaree
Directed byJack Conway
Written byAnne Morrison Chapin
Whitfield Cook
Cyril Hume
Based onHigh Barbaree by
Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
StarringVan Johnson
June Allyson
Music byAlbert Sendrey
CinematographySidney Wagner
Editing byConrad A. Nervig
StudioMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s)
  • May 1947 (1947-05)
Running time91 min.
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
 
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High Barbaree
Directed byJack Conway
Written byAnne Morrison Chapin
Whitfield Cook
Cyril Hume
Based onHigh Barbaree by
Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall
StarringVan Johnson
June Allyson
Music byAlbert Sendrey
CinematographySidney Wagner
Editing byConrad A. Nervig
StudioMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s)
  • May 1947 (1947-05)
Running time91 min.
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

High Barbaree (aka Enchanted Island) is a 1947 film directed by Jack Conway. It stars Van Johnson and June Allyson, in the third of their six screen pairings. The screenplay based on the novel High Barbaree (1945) by authors Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall. The real-life drama of the Consolidated PBY Catalina aircraft in the Pacific theater was merged into a search for a mystical "High Barbaree".[1]

Plot

In Hawaii, during World War II, U.S. Navy pilot Alec Brooke (Van Johnson) successfully commands a flying boat, named the "High Barbaree". During a bombing mission against a Japanese submarine, his PBY Catalina is shot down with all but one of his crew killed, but still able to stay afloat, adrift far from Allied territory. While the crippled aircraft is slowly floating, the two survivors hear the voice of "Tokyo Rose" (Audrey Totter) invoking memories of their past. Alec shares a series of recollections with fellow survivor, Lt. Joe Moore (Cameron Mitchell). His memories concern his boyhood sweetheart, Nancy Fraser (June Allyson), now a Navy nurse serving on a ship in the Pacific theater, commanded by his uncle, Capt. Thad Vail (Thomas Mitchell).

His uncle had once discovered High Barbaree, a mythical island that the crew members now head for, using a lashed-up sail made from parachutes to convert the flying boat into a sailboat, but as water supplies dwindle and both men begin to succumb to the conditions, Alec continues his story of a childhood where he had dreamed of becoming a doctor like his father (Henry Hull). After completing the first two years of medical training, he had chosen to become a pilot and rose to the ranks of vice-president of the Case Aviation company, even winning the hand of the boss's daughter (Marilyn Maxwell). When his childhood sweetheart comes back for a visit, a terrible tornado [N 1] destroys the company and town, and while his father suffers a broken arm, Alec takes over the medical care of the victims that are in the town auditorium.

The coming of war precludes Alec continuing his medical career, and as a pilot in the highly-specialized PBY flying boats that harass the Japanese fleets, he is particularly successful until his last mission. After Joe dies, and Alec goes into a coma, High Barbaree seems only a dream when rescue comes at the last moment, as his uncle steers to the location he had once charted and finds Alec. On board, Nancy and the recovering Alec are finally reunited.

Cast

The judicious use of combat footage enhanced the production values of High Barbaree.

Production

After a period of inactivity for Van Johnson where he had brooded about his decision not to enlist in World War II, the studio cast him with one of his favorite co-stars, June Allyson, who had been a close friend ever since the pair had performed on Broadway and had been budding stars in Hollywood. Other principal roles such as the father, mother and uncle were ably cast by Hollywood veterans while the significant role of the young Alec was handled by Claude Jarman Jr., the star of The Yearling (1946).[2]

The studio followed the plotline of the original novel which had a "Romeo and Juliet" ending with Allyson's character dying with Johnson hearing that her ship had been sunk and subsequently dying before he is rescued. When previewed in Los Angeles with this ending, 40% of the audience cards wanted a happy ending with Johnson not dying. A costly $50,000 remake had both of the screen lovers surviving.[4]

The saga of the Consolidated PBY Catalinas flown in the Pacific theater featured predominantly in the film, and were often shown in interiors as well as through the inter-cutting of PBYs in flight from combat footage. These flying boats, first used for reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare, were also specially modified to operate as night raiders. While location shooting took place at Location filming took place at King City, Arcadia, California, aerial sequences took place at the U.S. Navy's North Island, San Diego, and in the coastal waters off Coronado Island, California with principal photography wrapped on August 14, 1946.[5]

The use of the Ryan Aircraft plant in San Diego as the site for the lead actor's test flying adventures included a lively wringing out of the Stinson L-1 Vigilant[N 2] and Ryan ST trainer, flown by Paul Mantz.[6]

Reception

Released at a time when war films had ebbed, the studio marketed High Barbaree as a romantic comedy with the pairing of America's sweethearts. The film was not universally well received as the packaging seemed contrived and the storyline was laboriously drawn out with numerous flashbacks that detracted from the action of the South Pacific air war, where the aerial sequences stood out.[7] Bosley Crowther of The New York Times saw the film as dull and "uninspiring", with a "screenplay from a novel by Nordoff and Hall did not do much more than a blueprint of romantic and sentimental clichés."[8]

On January 24, 1949, "Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60-minute radio adaptation of the movie with Van Johnson reprising his film role.[9]

References

Notes

  1. ^ The dramatic use of footage from the tornado in The Wizard of Oz (1939), was reprised in High Barbaree.[2][3]
  2. ^ In High Barbaree, the Stinson L-1 Vigilant appears to be hovering and while the Stinson folks bragged that their Stinson L-1 Vigilant could actually accomplish this feat, in a strong headwind, the L-1 could be seen slowly flying backward.

Citations

  1. ^ ""High Barbaree". Allmovie. Retrieved: September 16, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Quin, Elanor. "Articles: High Barabee." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: September 16, 2012.
  3. ^ Marshall, Tim. "The OZ Tornado." Storm Track. Retrieved: September 17, 2012.
  4. ^ "Notes: High Barabee." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: September 17, 2012.
  5. ^ Davis 2001, p. 106.
  6. ^ Adcock 2005, p. 7.
  7. ^ Hardwick and Schnepf 1989, p. 57.
  8. ^ Crowther, Bosley. "The High Barbaree (1947)." The New York Times, June 6, 1947.
  9. ^ "Did you know?" IMDb. Retrieved: 17 September 2012.

Bibliography

  • Adcock, Al. US Liaison Aircraft in action (Aircraft in Action: No. 195). Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, 2005. ISBN 978-0897474870.
  • Davis, Ronald. Van Johnson: MGM's Golden Boy. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 2001. ISBN 978-1-57806-377-2.
  • Hardwick, Jack and Ed Schnepf. "A Viewer's Guide to Aviation Movies." The Making of the Great Aviation Films. General Aviation Series, Volume 2, 1989.

External links