Until They Sail (1957)

92 or 94-95 mins | Drama, Romance | October 1957

Director:

Robert Wise

Writer:

Robert Anderson

Producer:

Charles Schnee

Cinematographer:

Joseph Ruttenberg

Editor:

Harold F. Kress

Production Designers:

William A. Horning, Paul Groesse

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

A written prologue during the opening credits reads "M-G-M gratefully acknowledges the generous cooperation of the government and Army of New Zealand in the making of this motion picture." After a brief opening scene in a New Zealand courtroom, voice-over narration is then provided by Jean Simmons as the character "Barbara Leslie Forbes." She introduces of herself and her three sisters with an interior monologue. At various points through the film, radio broadcasts which the characters listen to provide information about the war in the Pacific.
       As portrayed in the film, following New Zealand’s declaration of war against Germany in 1939, New Zealand soldiers were shipped out for duty overseas, leaving their homeland almost devoid of marriageable men. American military personnel were subsequently stationed in New Zealand following the United States' entry into the war in Dec 1941. Modern sources estimate that over 15,000 American soldiers married Australian and New Zealand women they had met while stationed in those countries. Although petitions were initially required before these soldiers could transport their "war brides" to the United States, the 28 Dec 1945 War Bride's Act required only proof of marriage to ensure legal migration. Some modern sources estimate that the total war bride migration as a result of World War II was one of the largest migrations to the United States since the 1920s.
       A 24 Dec 1952 HR news item states that Mark Robson and Robert Wise's Aspen Productions originally purchased the film rights to James A. Michener's short story "Until They Sail," but filming was postponed due to casting difficulties. According to a 14 Sep 1953 HR news item, after purchasing the rights ... More Less

A written prologue during the opening credits reads "M-G-M gratefully acknowledges the generous cooperation of the government and Army of New Zealand in the making of this motion picture." After a brief opening scene in a New Zealand courtroom, voice-over narration is then provided by Jean Simmons as the character "Barbara Leslie Forbes." She introduces of herself and her three sisters with an interior monologue. At various points through the film, radio broadcasts which the characters listen to provide information about the war in the Pacific.
       As portrayed in the film, following New Zealand’s declaration of war against Germany in 1939, New Zealand soldiers were shipped out for duty overseas, leaving their homeland almost devoid of marriageable men. American military personnel were subsequently stationed in New Zealand following the United States' entry into the war in Dec 1941. Modern sources estimate that over 15,000 American soldiers married Australian and New Zealand women they had met while stationed in those countries. Although petitions were initially required before these soldiers could transport their "war brides" to the United States, the 28 Dec 1945 War Bride's Act required only proof of marriage to ensure legal migration. Some modern sources estimate that the total war bride migration as a result of World War II was one of the largest migrations to the United States since the 1920s.
       A 24 Dec 1952 HR news item states that Mark Robson and Robert Wise's Aspen Productions originally purchased the film rights to James A. Michener's short story "Until They Sail," but filming was postponed due to casting difficulties. According to a 14 Sep 1953 HR news item, after purchasing the rights from Aspen Productions, Harold Hecht of Hecht-Lancaster-Hill Productions wanted his partner, Burt Lancaster, for the lead and planned to have their subsidiary Norma Productions produce it. However, by Dec 1954, HR reports that Hecht was considering Kim Stanley for the female lead, while Lancaster was assigned to direct the film with shooting scheduled for Dec 1955. A 20 Dec 1954 HR news item states that Richard Collins was originally considered to write the screenplay and James Hill, the third Hecht-Lancaster-Hill partner, was assigned to produce the film. By Dec 1955, M-G-M stepped in to purchase the rights from Hecht-Lancaster-Hill for $75,000 with plans for Glenn Ford to star in the film, and a 23 Aug 1956 HR news item states that Marcel Norring was considered for a leading role.
       By 1957, M-G-M had decided that Paul Newman was to star and shooting began that year with one of the original purchasers, Robert Wise, directing. The other purchaser, Robson, had produced another film based on a Michener novel entitled Return to Paradise in 1953 (See Entry). Although the two films' plots differ greatly, some modern sources attribute Until They Sail as a remake of the earlier film, also set in World War II South Pacific. As noted in reviews, some scenes were shot on location in Christchurch and Wellington, New Zealand.
       This film marked the motion picture debut of actress Sandra Dee (1942--2005), who became one of the most popular teenage stars of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Her embodiment of the pretty blonde teenage ideal of the era was immortalized in the 1972 Broadway musical and subsequent 1978 film musical Grease , about teen life in the 1950s, in the song "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee." Dee was married to popular singer Bobby Darin in the 1960s. The biographical film Beyond the Sea , which deals with Darin's relationship with Dee was released in late 2004, a few months before Dee died. That film was directed by and starred Kevin Spacey as Darin and Kate Bosworth as Dee. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
28 Sep 1957.
---
Daily Variety
20 Dec 1954.
---
Daily Variety
25 Sep 1957
p. 3.
Film Daily
26 Sep 57
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 1952.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 1953.
---
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 1954.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Dec 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Dec 1955
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Aug 1956
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Aug 1956
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 1957
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 1957
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Sep 1957
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
13 Oct 1957.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
5 Oct 57
p. 554.
New York Times
9 Oct 1957
p. 41.
Time
28 Oct 1957.
---
Variety
25 Sep 1957
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hair styles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based upon the short story "Until They Sail" by James A. Michener in his Return to Paradise (New York, 1950).
SONGS
"Until They Sail," lyrics by Sammy Cahn, sung by Eydie Gormé.
PERFORMER
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
October 1957
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 8 October 1957
Production Date:
mid March--early May 1957
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
25 September 1957
Copyright Number:
LP9124
Physical Properties:
Sound
Perspecta Sound; Westrex Recording System
Black and White
CinemaScope
Widescreen/ratio
2.55:1
Lenses/Prints
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
92 or 94-95
Length(in feet):
8,307
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18590
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In a courtroom in Wellington, New Zealand, Barbara Leslie listens to testimony about her sister Delia and remembers the events that led to the trial: The Leslie sisters, Barbara, Anne and their impetuous younger siblings Evelyn and Delia, live in Christchurch, where most of the townsmen are preparing to leave for World War II duty, including their brother Kit and Barbara's new husband, Mark Forbes. With their mother deceased and their father lost to the war, the sisters console themselves by plotting their loved ones war locations on a world map in their living room. One evening, Delia gleefully announces her engagement to one of Christchurch's few remaining bachelors, "Shiner" Phil Friskett, but news of Kit's death quickly dampens her mood. Later, prim spinster Anne expresses her disapproval of the marriage, but Barbara defends Delia's happiness. Within weeks of Delia's marriage, the sisters come to hate Shiner's abusive behavior and are glad to see him leave for war duty. Delia, now lonely for male companionship, moves to the larger city of Wellington to work for the Navy despite Barbara's protests. When the United States sends several hundred Marines to Christchurch after the attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941, many of the men brashly flirt with the lonely New Zealand women. Naive, fourteen-year-old Evelyn cannot resist inviting kind Capt. Richard G. Bates to dinner. The well-mannered captain declines her offer, but not without attracting Anne's attention. Concerned that Delia has forgotten her marriage vows, Anne sends Barbara to Wellington, where Delia is registered at a hotel under her maiden name. After Barbara reports that Shiner is a prisoner of war, Delia introduces Barbara to her lover, an American lieutenant named ... +


In a courtroom in Wellington, New Zealand, Barbara Leslie listens to testimony about her sister Delia and remembers the events that led to the trial: The Leslie sisters, Barbara, Anne and their impetuous younger siblings Evelyn and Delia, live in Christchurch, where most of the townsmen are preparing to leave for World War II duty, including their brother Kit and Barbara's new husband, Mark Forbes. With their mother deceased and their father lost to the war, the sisters console themselves by plotting their loved ones war locations on a world map in their living room. One evening, Delia gleefully announces her engagement to one of Christchurch's few remaining bachelors, "Shiner" Phil Friskett, but news of Kit's death quickly dampens her mood. Later, prim spinster Anne expresses her disapproval of the marriage, but Barbara defends Delia's happiness. Within weeks of Delia's marriage, the sisters come to hate Shiner's abusive behavior and are glad to see him leave for war duty. Delia, now lonely for male companionship, moves to the larger city of Wellington to work for the Navy despite Barbara's protests. When the United States sends several hundred Marines to Christchurch after the attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941, many of the men brashly flirt with the lonely New Zealand women. Naive, fourteen-year-old Evelyn cannot resist inviting kind Capt. Richard G. Bates to dinner. The well-mannered captain declines her offer, but not without attracting Anne's attention. Concerned that Delia has forgotten her marriage vows, Anne sends Barbara to Wellington, where Delia is registered at a hotel under her maiden name. After Barbara reports that Shiner is a prisoner of war, Delia introduces Barbara to her lover, an American lieutenant named Andy, and announces she plans to divorce Shiner and begin a new life in the United States. Barbara, shocked by Delia's adultery, is about to leave when Andy awkwardly explains that he was raised with the same family values as the sisters. Inviting her to join them at a Wellington bar, Andy introduces Barbara to his friend Jack Harding, a divorced and disillusioned soldier assigned to investigate the prospective New Zealand brides of American soldiers. Once alone with Jack, Barbara harshly criticizes the Americans for seducing New Zealand women with trinkets and money. Jack retorts that, although many of men have wives and children at home, "war makes strange bedfellows." When they share a wistful glance, Barbara, still faithful to her husband, is upset by her attraction to him and abruptly excuses herself. Later in Christchurch, Anne is outraged when the American soldiers make lewd suggestions at the lingerie shop where she works and writes a complaint, which is subsequently published in the local paper. One evening, Richard is sent to the Leslie home to deliver a formal apology for the Marine Corps' behavior. Charmed by his courtesy and his good looks, Anne invites him to dinner that evening, where Richard gives the sisters each a gift of perfume. Anne inadvertently reveals her interest in him when she expresses disappointment that someone she likes would use such a common ruse to seduce them. Days later, Barbara and Anne's hopes are dashed when they learn of Mark's death and Richard's departure for duty; however, when Richard returns to New Zealand to recover from an injury months later, a romance between him and Anne blossoms. Soon after, Richard proposes to Anne, but before the required marital investigation can take place, he is given offshore duty, leaving Anne pregnant and unsure of their future. Days later, Jack surprises Barbara at the Leslie home while reporting on his investigation of Anne. During their subsequent date, Jack explains to Anne that wartime romances are the product of loneliness not love, adding that he suppresses his loneliness with alcohol. Barbara finds his assessment heartless and returns home to find Richard's name on the latest casualty list. Weeks later, Jack finds Barbara at a town dance, where she cautions that his drinking is a coward's answer to intimacy. Jack finally breaks down in her arms during a stroll that evening, which begins a strong friendship between the two. Months later, on Christmas Eve, Jack celebrates with the Leslies, including Anne's newly arrived baby boy. In a moment alone with Barbara, when Jack announces his immediate departure for duty, their heretofore-suppressed passion erupts in an amorous embrace. Months later, Evelyn's New Zealand sweetheart Tommy returns from war and proposes to her. Despite her brief flirtations with American soldiers, Evelyn loves Tommy and leaves for Oakland with him. In a newspaper column containing personal ads from American families to New Zealand, Barbara spots an ad from Mrs. Bates, Richard's mother, and writes to her. In her reply, Mrs. Bates encloses money for Anne and her son to move to Oklahoma to be with Richard's family. As Anne's departure approaches, Delia flies down from Wellington to see her off and to meet Shiner, who has just returned from war. That night, when Delia does not deny Shiner's accusations of infidelity and demands a divorce to leave for America with her lover, Shiner flies into a rage and kills his wife with a Japanese sword he brought back from the war. Weeks later, during the murder trial, Jack is forced to reveal his investigation report detailing that Delia had had seven American soldiers as lovers. Traumatized and infuriated that her sister's infidelities have been made the scapegoat for the brutal murder, Barbara refuses Jack's offer to leave New Zealand with him. Upon returning to the lonely house, however, Barbara realizes that she is alone in Christchurch. After burning the map and packing her belongings, Barbara arrives at Jack's hotel room, where he embraces her. Overwhelmed by the new life she is about to embark on, Barbara notes that her father would be shocked by his daughters' lives, but Jack assures Barbara that her father would both understand and forgive them. +

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

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