Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Last summer re-view: La Isla Del Sol

As summer ebbs away here and autumn sets in, our final summer re-view is, appropriately, ISLAND IN THE SUN (or as my Spanish dvd calls it LA ISLA DEL SOL), that sun-drenched trashfest/engrossing drama from 20th Century Fox in 1957, with fascinating casting and it all looks gorgeous, as per my earlier review.  To recap:

ISLAND IN THE SUN. “Scandal, political intrigue and inter-racial romance on a steamy Caribbean island” – well, that’s what the blurb says, and continues: “Its 1957 on the tropical island of Santa Mara (so no, its not Jamaica) where a charismatic new black leader threatens to unseat British rule.” The result though is an engrossing two hours as several plotlines converge around the leading players. Joan Fontaine has a chaste romance with Harry Belafonte (despite the posed still above they do not touch in the film) Which Cannot Be, so they have to give each other up, but it gives her a chance to wear some nice summer outfits and halter tops, with white gloves of course. 
Joan Collins also gets to wear some nifty outfits as she romances a stolid Stephen Boyd (an English lord !); James Mason gets into a murderous rage over his wife’s relationship with Michael Rennie; Dorothy Dandridge (CARMEN JONES) is lovely but rather wasted, and Diana Wynyard is good support, along with John Williams as the police chief tracking down the murderer. 
It was a best-selling novel by Alec Waugh  (a brother of Evelyn) and Darryl F Zanuck produces and gives it that 20th Century Fox plush Cinemascope look mixing in contract players like Boyd, Collins, Patricia Owens, with the more established stars, so another 20th Century Fox literary potboiler like their PEYTON PLACETHE SUN ALSO RISES, THE WAYWARD BUS, SANCTUARY, THE SOUND AND THE FURY, HEMINGWAY'S ADVENTURES OF A YOUNG MAN. The island here could be a mix of Barbados and Grenada and is a set-designer’s dream. The title song is one of the first pop hits I remember ... A star-studded entertaining chunk of trash then from director Robert Rossen, for a damp afternoon, and so very 1957. 
PS on Fontaine & Belafonte - it caused a furore in America in the '60s when Petula Clark touched him when they were singing on one of her tv shows .... so imagine the fuss in 1957 ! Poor Joan received hate mail! On location, it was the other Joan - La Collins - who got to first base with Harry.


  1. Of those other Fox movies you namecheck PEYTON PLACE and THE SUN ALSO RISES (due out on bluray here soon) are the only two I've seen. I was never a massive fan of ISLAND IN THE SUN despite the cast, maybe because, being a very precocious child, I read the book when I was about 14. I wish someone would bring out PEYTON PLACE on bluray.

  2. I must have been almost as precocious as you as I also read the book as an early teen, along with sensational (then) items like A SUMMER PLACE by Sloan Wilson, THE BEST OF EVERYTHING by Rona Jaffe, THE CHAPMAN REPORT by Irving Wallace etc. I don't rate PEYTON PLACE much as a film, but RETURN TO PEYTON PLACE is a screaming Trashfest of the highest order.

  3. I always hated RETURN TO PEYTON PLACE except for Mary Astor but I really need to see it again.