Sea Wife (1957)

81-82 mins | Drama | August 1957

Director:

Bob McNaught

Writer:

George K. Burke

Cinematographer:

Ted Scaife

Editor:

Ray Poulton

Production Designer:

Arthur Lawson
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HISTORY

The order of the opening onscreen cast credits differs slightly from that of the closing credits. In the opening credits, Cy Grant's name appears last, accompanied by the phrase "and introducing." According to a Jun 1956 HR news item, Roberto Rossellini was originally to direct the picture but ran into problems with the PCA. Materials contained in the film's MPAA/PCA file at the AMPAS Library reveal that Rossellini wrote a script with Bruce Marshall that was unacceptable to the PCA because of its portrayal of the nun. In particular, the PCA objected to a scene in which the nun was shown swimming naked, thus resulting in the "exploition of the physical beauty of the nun's body," a depiction that would offend the Catholic Church. In addition, the PCA disapproved of the nun exhibiting a romantic interest in "Biscuit," and the fact that the ending was ambigious about whether the nun returned to her convent or renounced her religion for "Biscuit."
       According to the PCA file, Richard Burton, the film's star, disliked the Marshall/Rossellini script so much that he refused to appear in it. When that script was rejected, Rossellini bowed out of the project and was replaced by Bob McNaught, according to the Jun 1956 HR news item. In addition to the Rossellini script, the PCA files contain a reference to a script written by Nigel Balchen, but the extent of Balchen's contribution to the final film is not known. The film was shot on location in Jamaica and interiors were filmed in London. ... More Less

The order of the opening onscreen cast credits differs slightly from that of the closing credits. In the opening credits, Cy Grant's name appears last, accompanied by the phrase "and introducing." According to a Jun 1956 HR news item, Roberto Rossellini was originally to direct the picture but ran into problems with the PCA. Materials contained in the film's MPAA/PCA file at the AMPAS Library reveal that Rossellini wrote a script with Bruce Marshall that was unacceptable to the PCA because of its portrayal of the nun. In particular, the PCA objected to a scene in which the nun was shown swimming naked, thus resulting in the "exploition of the physical beauty of the nun's body," a depiction that would offend the Catholic Church. In addition, the PCA disapproved of the nun exhibiting a romantic interest in "Biscuit," and the fact that the ending was ambigious about whether the nun returned to her convent or renounced her religion for "Biscuit."
       According to the PCA file, Richard Burton, the film's star, disliked the Marshall/Rossellini script so much that he refused to appear in it. When that script was rejected, Rossellini bowed out of the project and was replaced by Bob McNaught, according to the Jun 1956 HR news item. In addition to the Rossellini script, the PCA files contain a reference to a script written by Nigel Balchen, but the extent of Balchen's contribution to the final film is not known. The film was shot on location in Jamaica and interiors were filmed in London. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
24 Aug 1957.
---
Daily Variety
10 Apr 57
p. 3.
Film Daily
6 Aug 57
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jun 56
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 56
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Aug 56
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Aug 57
p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
17 Aug 57
p. 489.
New York Times
5 Dec 57
p. 45.
Variety
8 May 57
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Unit loc dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
MUSIC
Mus score
Mus score
Played by
Cond by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Dubbing ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Sea-Wyf by J. M. Scott (New York, 1956).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"I'll Find You," music by Tolchard Evans, lyrics by Richard Mullan, sung by David Whitfield.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
August 1957
Premiere Information:
London opening: 30 April 1957
Production Date:
early July--early September 1956
Copyright Claimant:
Alma Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
13 August 1957
Copyright Number:
LP9120
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Lenses/Prints
lenses by Bausch & Lomb
Duration(in mins):
81-82
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18330
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

A man stands alone, lost in thought, on the deck of an ocean liner bound for Dover, England. He then decisively proceeds to the ship's radio office to send an urgent telegram, directing a London newspaper to place an advertisement in the personal column asking "Sea Wife to get in touch with Biscuit." The man, Biscuit, anxiously awaits a reply, and when none is forthcoming, places a barrage of messages to the elusive Sea Wife. One day, in Dover, Biscuit receives a letter written by a man named Bulldog, who asks him to come to see him at the Ely Retreat and Mental Home. Biscuit hurries to the home and finds Bulldog ill, the victim of a nervous breakdown. When Biscuit informs Bulldog that he is determined to find Sea Wife, Bulldog advises him to forget the whole incident, then begins to babble incoherently about "a girl, a Negro and a knife." Bulldog's ravings take Biscuit back in time to 1942, and the Singapore harbor: With the city under siege from the Japanese, its British residents scramble aboard an overcrowded steamer, their last chance to reach the safety of home. Among the passengers are an RAF officer and a ruthless businessman, who considers displacing a nun and her young charges so that he can have a cabin of his own. Soon after setting sail, the ship is torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. As the mortally damaged ship begins to list, the women and children are loaded into the too few lifeboats, and the businessman demands that he be granted a seat also. A small girl clinging to the ... +


A man stands alone, lost in thought, on the deck of an ocean liner bound for Dover, England. He then decisively proceeds to the ship's radio office to send an urgent telegram, directing a London newspaper to place an advertisement in the personal column asking "Sea Wife to get in touch with Biscuit." The man, Biscuit, anxiously awaits a reply, and when none is forthcoming, places a barrage of messages to the elusive Sea Wife. One day, in Dover, Biscuit receives a letter written by a man named Bulldog, who asks him to come to see him at the Ely Retreat and Mental Home. Biscuit hurries to the home and finds Bulldog ill, the victim of a nervous breakdown. When Biscuit informs Bulldog that he is determined to find Sea Wife, Bulldog advises him to forget the whole incident, then begins to babble incoherently about "a girl, a Negro and a knife." Bulldog's ravings take Biscuit back in time to 1942, and the Singapore harbor: With the city under siege from the Japanese, its British residents scramble aboard an overcrowded steamer, their last chance to reach the safety of home. Among the passengers are an RAF officer and a ruthless businessman, who considers displacing a nun and her young charges so that he can have a cabin of his own. Soon after setting sail, the ship is torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. As the mortally damaged ship begins to list, the women and children are loaded into the too few lifeboats, and the businessman demands that he be granted a seat also. A small girl clinging to the nun for life pulls off the nun's habit before disappearing into the boat below. When the order comes to abandon ship, the RAF officer spots a small rubber raft bobbing in the water and dives for it. As he swims toward the raft, he rescues the nun and pulls her to safety. The businessman also sees the raft, and clings tenaciously to its side, thus earning the name "Bulldog." As the ship explodes into flames, the black purser is the last to climb aboard the raft, and so is dubbed "Number Four." With the sun mercilessly beating down on them, the RAF officer doles out the precious reserves of water and biscuits, thus earning the moniker "Biscuit." When Number Four comments that the woman swims like a "Sea Wife," they christen her Sea Wife. Several days later, their supplies begin to run dangerously low and Bulldog proposes killing one of the group for nourishment. Just then, a Japanese submarine surfaces, but the enemy refuses to replenish their supplies until Number Four says something in Japanese that causes them to relent. Sea Wife understands his words, and the next day asks Number Four to keep her secret that she is a nun. Later, when Biscuit wistfully asks Sea Wife to come see the cherry blossoms with him in London after they are rescued, she refuses, and when he asks if he has a rival, she replies yes. Soon after, a wave nearly capsizes their raft, washing their supplies overboard. Desperate for food, Bulldog stuns a seabird with a blow from his oar, and is about to strangle it when Sea Wife accuses them all of acting like savages and declares that the bird means land is near. The next morning, they spot land, but a swift moving current tosses their raft into the rocks, puncturing it. As Biscuit and Sea Wife forage for shellfish, Biscuit confides that his name is Michael and asks her Christian name, but she demurs. When Number Four finds a discarded machete, Biscuit recalls seeing land ten to fifteen miles north and proposes building a raft to reach it. After Number Four refuses to relinquish his machete, Bulldog, brimming with paranoia and prejudice, believes that he plans to use the knife against them. Knowing that they must catch the current at the full moon, they hurry to construct a seaworthy vessel. When the raft is finally completed, Biscuit confesses to Sea Wife that he has fallen in love with her, but she replies she is pledged to someone else. As they prepare to sail, Number Four discovers that his knife is missing and begins to search for it. In Number Four's absence, Bulldog lures the others onto the raft and then pushes off, leaving Number Four behind. When Biscuit struggles to stop Bulldog, Bulldog strikes him with an oar, thus rendering him unconscious for the rest of the journey. Seeing them sail away, Number Four swims after them, and they watch in horror as a shark attacks and kills him. That night, while Sea Wife prays for God's mercy, Bulldog babbles that a "knife and a Negro equals danger." Shortly after, they spot a ship on the horizon and are rescued. Biscuit's thoughts then return to the present, and he tells Bulldog that although he suffered from amnesia for several months after their rescue, he still loves Sea Wife and must find her. Bulldog then informs him that she died aboard their rescue ship, uttering with her last words, "tell Biscuit I loved him." Heartbroken, Biscuit leaves the hospital and passes two nuns walking along the path. One, Sea Wife, turns to look at him, but he fails to recognize her. +

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

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