Sea Wife (1957)

Sea Wife (1957)

“Why shouldn’t I love you? You’re young and beautiful and brave and good.”

A former officer during World War II (Richard Burton) reflects back on his experiences as a castaway with an incognito nun (Joan Collins), a racist white man (Basil Sydney), and a black purser (Cy Grant). Will the quartet be able to survive together given racial tensions and Burton falling in love with the unattainable Collins?

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • At Sea
  • Flashback Films
  • Joan Collins Films
  • Mistaken or Hidden Identities
  • Nuns
  • Race Relations and Racism
  • Richard Burton Films
  • Survival

DVD Savant accurately describes this flashback-driven wartime melodrama as “colorful, reasonably well acted and almost completely unsatisfying”. The central conceit — that Collins won’t reveal her true identity as a nun to Burton — makes no sense whatsoever, driving a storyline that keeps us increasingly frustrated as we wonder why (oh, why) she doesn’t just tell him already. No — because then there would be no tension at all, other than the secondary subplot about Sydney’s toxic racism driving him to literally want to snuff out Grant. Ew.

Meanwhile, the characters won’t stop referring to each other by silly nicknames: Biscuit (Burton), Seawife (a.k.a. “mermaid”) (Collins), Bulldog (Sydney), and Number 4 (Grant) (great way to dehumanize him even further…). There’s really nothing here worth watching, other than the beautiful scenery; one imagines Peary included it in GFTFF because young Collins is as gorgeous as ever:

… and we know he had a childhood crush on her from seeing her bare midriff in Land of the Pharaohs (1955).

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Fine location footage

Must See?
Nope; definitely feel free to skip this one.


One thought on “Sea Wife (1957)

  1. First saw this many years ago; my memory of it wasn’t favorable. Took in enough of a rewatch to verify that it’s not must-see. It sure ain’t no ‘Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison’ (released the same year).

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