Island in the Sun (1957)

119-120 or 123 mins | Drama | June 1957

Director:

Robert Rossen

Writer:

Alfred Hayes

Cinematographer:

F. A. Young

Editor:

Reginald Beck

Production Designer:

William C. Andrews
Full page view
HISTORY

The title credit reads: "Twentieth Century-Fox by arrangement with Darryl F. Zanuck Productions, Inc. presents a CinemaScope Production of Island in the Sun by Alec Waugh." The film opens with the voice of Harry Belafonte singing the title song over aerial views of the beaches, harbors and villages of the island of Santa Marta. This is followed by a series of long shots picturing laborers cutting sugar cane, loading cargo onto boats and fishing. The sequence ends with the lone figure of Belafonte strolling along the beach. Although the Var review and CBCS lists the character played by John Justin as "David Archer," he is called "Dennis" in the film. Alec Waugh's novel was published serially in Ladies Home Journal in May 1955 under the title "Sugar Barons." At the end of Waugh's story, Maxwell commits suicide. The figure of "Boyeur" in the film is a composite of Waugh's labor leader and black attorney characters.
       According to a May 1955 LAT news item, Darryl F. Zanuck bought the rights to Waugh's novel prior to its publication. Island in the Sun was Zanuck's first independent production for Twentieth Century-Fox after he ended his tenure as Vice President in Charge of Production for the studio. According to materials contained in the Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, Dana Wynter was originally cast as "Jocelyn" and Joan Collins was to play "Sylvia." The film was shot on location in Barbados and Trinidad in the West Indies. Interiors were filmed at the M-G-M Elstree Studios near London, England.
       Although ... More Less

The title credit reads: "Twentieth Century-Fox by arrangement with Darryl F. Zanuck Productions, Inc. presents a CinemaScope Production of Island in the Sun by Alec Waugh." The film opens with the voice of Harry Belafonte singing the title song over aerial views of the beaches, harbors and villages of the island of Santa Marta. This is followed by a series of long shots picturing laborers cutting sugar cane, loading cargo onto boats and fishing. The sequence ends with the lone figure of Belafonte strolling along the beach. Although the Var review and CBCS lists the character played by John Justin as "David Archer," he is called "Dennis" in the film. Alec Waugh's novel was published serially in Ladies Home Journal in May 1955 under the title "Sugar Barons." At the end of Waugh's story, Maxwell commits suicide. The figure of "Boyeur" in the film is a composite of Waugh's labor leader and black attorney characters.
       According to a May 1955 LAT news item, Darryl F. Zanuck bought the rights to Waugh's novel prior to its publication. Island in the Sun was Zanuck's first independent production for Twentieth Century-Fox after he ended his tenure as Vice President in Charge of Production for the studio. According to materials contained in the Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, Dana Wynter was originally cast as "Jocelyn" and Joan Collins was to play "Sylvia." The film was shot on location in Barbados and Trinidad in the West Indies. Interiors were filmed at the M-G-M Elstree Studios near London, England.
       Although the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library indicates that no objections were raised over the depiction of an interracial romance, the film caused a great deal of controversy upon its release. According to a Jul 1957 DV news item, Island in the Sun was banned in Memphis, TN, because of its "frank depiction of miscegenation, an offense to moral standards and no good for Whites or Negroes." A Jul 1957 NYT news item adds that in New Orleans, the American Legion launched an unsuccessful campaign to halt the film's screening on the grounds that it "contributes to the Communist Party's aim of creating friction between the races." In Minneapolis, MN, another campaign was launched to cancel screenings. Although the effort was unfruitful, many Minneapolis theaters received calls and letters protesting the opening of the film, according to a Jun 1957 DV news item. As noted in another Jun 1957 DV item, Joan Fontaine, who played "Mavis Norman," received a flood of hate mail because her character desired an interracial romance with the character played by Belafonte. According to the MPAA/PCA file on the film at the AMPAS Library, the PCA's only concern about the film was that the characters of "Margot Seaton" and "Dennis Archer" not be portrayed as having an affair. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
15 Jun 1957.
---
Box Office
22 Jun 1957.
---
Daily Variety
13 Jun 57
p. 3.
Daily Variety
14 Jun 1957.
---
Daily Variety
8 Jul 1957.
---
Film Daily
13 Jun 57
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Oct 56
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Dec 56
p.13.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jun 57
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
2 May 1955.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
15 Jun 57
p. 417.
New York Times
12 Jun 57
p. 39.
New York Times
13 Jun 57
p. 37.
New York Times
18 Jul 1957.
---
Variety
19 Jun 57
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Cond The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
SOUND
Sd mixer
Sd mixer
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Island in the Sun by Alec Waugh (New York, 1955).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Island in the Sun" and "Lead Man Holler," words and music by Harry Belafonte and Irving Burgess.
DETAILS
Release Date:
June 1957
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 12 June 1957
Production Date:
early October--mid December 1956 at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Boreham Wood, Elstree, England
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. & Darryl F. Zanuck Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
14 June 1957
Copyright Number:
LP8751, LP8813
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Lenses/Prints
lenses by Bausch & Lomb
Duration(in mins):
119-120 or 123
Length(in reels):
14
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18381
SYNOPSIS

Bradshaw, an American journalist, comes to the West Indian island of Santa Marta to report on racial unrest and the concomitant movement to grant self-governance. Among the inhabitants of interest to Bradshaw is Maxwell Fleury, the disaffected son of a plantation dynasty. One morning, when Maxwell discovers an exotic Egyptian cigarette butt discarded in his ashtray, he begins to suspect that his wife Sylvia is having an affair. That afternoon, Sylvia, Maxwell and Maxwell's younger sister Jocelyn attend a garden party at the governor's mansion in honor of the governor's son, Euan Templeton, who is visiting the island on his way to Oxford. Also invited to the party is David Boyeur, a black activist barely tolerated by the entrenched white ruling powers. Boyeur insists that the sultry Margot Seaton accompany him to the event, even though Margot protests she will feel out of place there. At the party, Euan is immediately drawn to the alluring Jocelyn, while Margot attracts the attentions of Dennis Archer, the governor's aide. Boyeur has announced his intention to run for the legislature, and fearful of losing their dominance, the island gentry urges Maxwell to run against him. Becoming agitated when he notices that Hilary Carson, a retired war hero, smokes the same brand of cigarettes he found in his ashtray, Maxwell clashes with Boyeur, whose father once served as a slave on the Fleury plantation. However, Sylvia's sister, Mavis Norman, fondly recalls Boyeur from her childhood and befriends him. On the drive home, Maxwell, seething with anger and jealousy, accuses Sylvia of infidelity and rapes her. The next day, as they picnic at the beach, Jocelyn ... +


Bradshaw, an American journalist, comes to the West Indian island of Santa Marta to report on racial unrest and the concomitant movement to grant self-governance. Among the inhabitants of interest to Bradshaw is Maxwell Fleury, the disaffected son of a plantation dynasty. One morning, when Maxwell discovers an exotic Egyptian cigarette butt discarded in his ashtray, he begins to suspect that his wife Sylvia is having an affair. That afternoon, Sylvia, Maxwell and Maxwell's younger sister Jocelyn attend a garden party at the governor's mansion in honor of the governor's son, Euan Templeton, who is visiting the island on his way to Oxford. Also invited to the party is David Boyeur, a black activist barely tolerated by the entrenched white ruling powers. Boyeur insists that the sultry Margot Seaton accompany him to the event, even though Margot protests she will feel out of place there. At the party, Euan is immediately drawn to the alluring Jocelyn, while Margot attracts the attentions of Dennis Archer, the governor's aide. Boyeur has announced his intention to run for the legislature, and fearful of losing their dominance, the island gentry urges Maxwell to run against him. Becoming agitated when he notices that Hilary Carson, a retired war hero, smokes the same brand of cigarettes he found in his ashtray, Maxwell clashes with Boyeur, whose father once served as a slave on the Fleury plantation. However, Sylvia's sister, Mavis Norman, fondly recalls Boyeur from her childhood and befriends him. On the drive home, Maxwell, seething with anger and jealousy, accuses Sylvia of infidelity and rapes her. The next day, as they picnic at the beach, Jocelyn voices her longing to leave the island while Euan speaks of assuming his seat in the House of Lords after completing his education. Dennis, enthralled by Margot, visits her at the pharmacy where she works as a clerk and invites her to the governor's dance. Still suspicious of Sylvia, Maxwell drives into town looking for her and finds her with Carson, thus fueling his rage. At the dance, Mavis asks Boyeur to have a glass of champagne with her and confides that she would rather be useful than privileged. Dennis, now in love with Margot, takes her home and reveals his desire to be a writer. The next day, Maxwell informs his parents that he plans to run for office. When Julian, his father, expresses skepticism, Maxwell, simmering with resentment, accuses his parents of favoring their late son Arthur, who died a war hero, and then whines that he would have been better off being born black. Boyeur, meanwhile, escorts Mavis to the humble fishing village where he was born. As the town gathers for carnival, Jocelyn and Euan drive out to Maxwell's country home and are observed by a sinister figure wearing a mask. After tea, they prepare for the ride home, only to discover that someone has stolen a part from the car's engine and the phone wires have been cut, thus forcing them to spend the night together alone. The next morning, when Euan takes Jocelyn home, he proposes to her and Mrs. Fleury, worried about gossip, encourages the match. Jocelyn, however, is reticent because she is aware that Euan is soon to assume an important position in society. After Bradshaw writes an exposé about Julian's grandmother being black, Jocelyn feels betrayed by her parents and fears that her children may be black. That night, Maxwell confronts a drunken Carson in the street and forces his way into Carson's house. After Maxwell demands that Carson leave Sylvia alone, Carson makes a slur about Maxwell's racial heritage, and Maxwell, in a rage, assaults him and strangles him to death. Determined to make the murder look like a robbery, Maxwell speeds out of town and tosses Carson's wallet out along the way. When Maxwell reads a newspaper story about the wallet being found, he hurries into town to question Col. Whittingham, the officer in charge of the investigation. After mentioning the novel Crime and Punishment , the colonel confides to Maxwell he believes that Carson was murdered and that the killer will never be able to bear his guilt. The colonel then has an imaginary conversation with the killer, advising a plea of manslaughter. Maxwell, however, decides to run for the legislature, and holds a political rally. There, Sylvia reveals that Carson had come to the house on the morning of the governor's party to inquire about a charitable donation, causing Maxwell to realize his suspicions were unfounded. As Maxwell begins his speech, his words are drowned out by the contemptuous crowd, and Boyeur steps forth to quiet the assemblage. When Maxwell begins to speak extemporaneously, opportunistically trading on his black heritage, the crowd jeers. Maxwell then crumbles and spits out "I never wanted to be one of you." That night, after returning home from a date with Euan, Jocelyn confides to her mother that she is pregnant and wants to go to Canada to deliver the baby. When Jocelyn refuses to marry Euan because of her black blood, Mrs. Fleury reveals that Julian is not her real father, and therefore, she is racially pure. At his plantation, meanwhile, Maxwell, defeated, fingers the copy of Crime and Punishment that the colonel has sent. Maxwell locks himself in the bathroom with a gun, but unable to pull the trigger, smashes the mirror and then seeks out the colonel to confess. Dennis, whose relationship with Margot has displeased the governor, resigns his post and asks Margot to accompany him to London, where he intends to publish the exposé he has written about Santa Marta. Jocelyn and Euan, just married, board the plane bound for England and are followed by Margot and Dennis. As Mavis and Boyeur watch the aircraft soar overhead, Mavis suggest that they, too, travel to another country and get married. In response, Boyeur states that his skin is his country and that his people would never understand a relationship with a white woman. Mavis then walks away, alone. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.