Blue Lagoon, The (1949)

“I don’t care if we never see a boat again. I don’t care if we never get away from here!”

Blue Lagoon Poster

Synopsis:
Two young children (Susan Stranks and Peter Rudolph Jones) are shipwrecked on a deserted island, and must survive on their own. As they grow older, Emma (Jean Simmons) and Michael (Donald Houston) find themselves falling in love while waiting to be rescued.

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Review:
This mid-century British adaptation of Henry De Vere Stacpoole’s adventure novel is primarily known for featuring Jean Simmons in her lead debut, and as the predecessor to the infamously bad 1980 remake. On its own merits, however, The Blue Lagoon remains an enjoyable — if highly unrealistic — coming-of-age tale, worth watching simply for the gorgeous technicolor cinematography, and Simmons’ luminous face gracing the screen.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Jean Simmons in one of her earliest leading roles
    Simmons
  • Some genuine tense moments, as when Simmons is kidnapped by a rapacious sailor with decidedly unsavory intentions
    Tension
  • Beautiful technicolor cinematography of the deserted island
    Island

Must See?
No. Though it holds some historical interest as the precursor to its 1980 counterpart, The Blue Lagoon is ultimately only must-see viewing for fans of Jean Simmons.

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One Response to “Blue Lagoon, The (1949)”

  1. Not a must.

    It does not seem to have aged all that well, and the enjoyment level is slight. Simmons has maintained appeal throughout her career, but this is not one of her best performances (she fared much better two years earlier in ‘Black Narcissus’; and one year later in ‘So Long at the Fair’). The script here is only so-so (the main reason Simmons is less to ‘blame’), but it’s not helped by the somewhat amateurish direction. Simmons’ co-star (Houston) also seems too old for the part.

    Cyril Cusack is the standout, doing what he can as the ne’er-do-well with an evil eye on Simmons.

    Most troublesome are the children playing Young Emmeline and Michael. They’re…just not very good. In the 1980 remake, their counterparts are a vast improvement – so much so that we miss them when they unfortunately turn into Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins.

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