Seagulls Over Sorrento

Last updated

Seagulls Over Sorrento
Crest of the Wave
Crest of the Wave poster.jpg
US poster
Directed by John Boulting
Roy Boulting
Screenplay by Frank Harvey
Roy Boulting
Based on Seagulls Over Sorrento by Hugh Hastings
Produced byJohn Boulting
Roy Boulting
Starring Gene Kelly
John Justin
Bernard Lee
Cinematography Gilbert Taylor
Edited by Max Benedict
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Ernesto de Curtis
Distributed by Loew's, Inc.
Release date
  • 13 July 1954 (1954-07-13)(London)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$675,000 [1]
Box office$939,000 [1]

Seagulls Over Sorrento is a 1954 British war drama film made by the Boulting brothers based on the play of the same name by Hugh Hastings. The film stars Gene Kelly and was one of three made by Kelly in Europe over an 18-month period to make use of frozen MGM funds. The cast features John Justin, Bernard Lee and Jeff Richards. It was shot at MGM's Elstree Studios with sets designed by the art director Alfred Junge with location shooting taking place in the Channel Islands. Although the film finished shooting in July 1953, MGM could not release it in the United Kingdom until the play finished its London run, which delayed the film's release for almost a year. It was released as Crest of the Wave in the United States and Canada.



A small group of British sailors stationed on a Scottish island engaged in top-secret research on a new and dangerous torpedo are joined by a US Navy scientist, Lt. Brad Bradville (Gene Kelly), and his assistants. When several tests of the weapon fail, and men are killed, tensions within the group mount. Bradville must prove that the torpedo can work and win over the British, especially Lt. Rogert Wharton (John Justin), before the Admiralty pulls the plug on the project.


Original play

The original stage play was written by Australian playwright Hugh Hastings and was based on his experiences in World War II. [2] [3] It opened in London's West End on 14 June 1950, [4] and was a hit there, [5] but played for only two weeks on Broadway in New York City. [6] Bernard Lee played the same role in the London stage production. [5]

The play ran for over 1,600 performances in London. [7] [8] Film rights were sold to the Boulting Brothers for £10,000. [9] [10]


Because the play in which all the characters were British, and the emphasis was more on the enlisted men than in the film was a hit, MGM retained the title for the film everywhere except in the US and Canada, where the title Crest of the Wave was used. [5]

Although set on a Scottish island, the movie was filmed in Jersey and at Fort Clonque on Alderney in the Channel Islands, with interiors filmed at MGM's British studios at Borehamwood, Elstree. [5] Production took place between 4 May and late July 1953. The corvette monitoring the tests was HMS Hedingham Castle (pennant F386).

Ernesto de Curtis's song "Torna a Sorrento" [11] ("Come Back to Sorrento"), is performed on the concertina by David Orr, and was also used as background music throughout the film.

MGM was contractually obligated not to release the film until Seagulls Over Sorrento finished its West End run, which delayed the film's release until 13 July 1954, almost a year after filming had completed. The film then premiered in New York City on 10 November of that year, and went into general American release on 6 December. [12]


According to MGM records the film earned $349,000 in the US and Canada and $59,000 elsewhere, resulting in a loss of $58,000. [1]

1960 Australian TV adaptation

The film was adapted for Australian television in 1960.


Hastings later did a musical version of his play called Scapa which debuted in London in 1962. It received terrible reviews. [13]

Related Research Articles

Boulting brothers Twin brothers and filmmakers

John Edward Boulting and Roy Alfred Clarence Boulting, known collectively as the Boulting brothers, were English filmmakers and identical twins who became known for their series of satirical comedies in the 1950s and 1960s. They produced many of their films through their own production company, Charter Film Productions, which they founded in 1937.

<i>Edward, My Son</i> 1949 film by George Cukor

Edward, My Son is a 1949 British drama film directed by George Cukor for MGM-British Studios that stars Spencer Tracy and Deborah Kerr. The screenplay by Donald Ogden Stewart is based on the 1947 play of the same title by Noel Langley and Robert Morley.

<i>Operation Petticoat</i> 1959 film by Blake Edwards

Operation Petticoat is a 1959 American World War II submarine comedy film in Eastmancolor from Universal-International, produced by Robert Arthur, directed by Blake Edwards, that stars Cary Grant and Tony Curtis.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gordon Jackson (actor)</span> Scottish actor

Gordon Cameron Jackson, was a Scottish actor best remembered for his roles as the butler Angus Hudson in Upstairs, Downstairs and as George Cowley, the head of CI5, in The Professionals. He also portrayed Capt Jimmy Cairns in Tunes of Glory, and Flt. Lt. Andrew MacDonald, "Intelligence", in The Great Escape.

<i>Dunkirk</i> (1958 film) 1958 war film by Leslie Norman

Dunkirk is a 1958 British war film directed by Leslie Norman that depicts the Dunkirk evacuation of World War II, and starring John Mills, Richard Attenborough, and Bernard Lee. The film is based on the novels The Big Pick-Up by Elleston Trevor and Dunkirk co-authored by Lt Col Ewan Butler and Major J. S. Bradford.

HMS <i>Hedingham Castle</i> (K529)

HMS Hedingham Castle was a Castle-class corvette of the Royal Navy named after Hedingham Castle in Essex.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Patrick Barr</span> English actor

Patrick David Barr was an English actor. In his career spanning over half a century, he appeared in about 144 films and television series.

MGM-British was a subsidiary of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer initially established at Denham Film Studios in 1936. It was in limbo during the Second World War; however, following the end of hostilities, a facility was acquired in Borehamwood, which remained in use until it was closed in 1970.

<i>The Family Way</i> 1966 British film

The Family Way is a 1966 British comedy-drama film about the marital difficulties of a young newlywed couple living in a crowded house with the husband's family. Based on Bill Naughton's play All in Good Time (1963), the film began life in 1961 as the television play Honeymoon Postponed.

<i>Betrayed</i> (1954 film) 1954 film by Gottfried Reinhardt

Betrayed is a 1954 American Eastmancolor war drama film directed by Gottfried Reinhardt and starring Clark Gable, Lana Turner, Victor Mature, and Louis Calhern. The screenplay was by Ronald Millar and George Froeschel. The musical score was by Walter Goehr and Bronislau Kaper, and the cinematography by Freddie Young. The picture, Gable's last for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, was filmed on location in the Netherlands and England, and was based on the story of turncoat Dutch resistance leader Christiaan Lindemans, also known as "King Kong". The supporting cast features O. E. Hasse, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Ian Carmichael, Niall MacGinnis, and Theodore Bikel. Betrayed was the fourth and final movie in which Gable played opposite Turner, and their third pairing set during World War II.

British Lion Films Film production and distribution company

British Lion Films is a film production and distribution company active under several forms since 1919. Originally known as British Lion Film Corporation Ltd, it entered receivership on 1 June 1954. From 29 January 1955 to 1976, the company was known as British Lion Films Ltd, and was a pure distribution company.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Justin</span> British actor (1917–2002)

John Justin was a British stage and film actor.

<i>Follow the Boys</i> (1963 film) 1963 film by Richard Thorpe

Follow the Boys (1963) is a comedy film starring Connie Francis, Paula Prentiss, and Janis Paige, and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Directed by Richard Thorpe and shot on location on the French and Italian Riviera, Follow the Boys was MGM's second film vehicle for top recording artist Francis following Where the Boys Are (1960). While Francis' role in the earlier film had been somewhat secondary, she had a distinctly central role in Follow the Boys playing Bonnie Pulaski, a newlywed traveling the Riviera.

The Phillip Street Theatre was a popular and influential Australian theatre and theatrical company, located in Phillip Street in Sydney that was active from 1954 and 1971 that became well known for its intimate satirical revue productions.

<i>McHales Navy</i> (1964 film) 1964 film by Edward Montagne

McHale's Navy is a 1964 technicolor comedy film based on the 1962–1966 black and white television sitcom McHale's Navy starring Ernest Borgnine, Tim Conway and Joe Flynn, which had in turn originated with a one-hour anthology drama starring Borgnine entitled Seven Against the Sea. The film version was directed by series producer Edward Montagne and its supporting cast includes Carl Ballantine, Gavin MacLeod, Jean Willes, Claudine Longet, and George Kennedy. The film was followed by a sequel entitled McHale's Navy Joins the Air Force which did not feature Borgnine or Carl Ballantine. A remake entitled McHale's Navy, was released in 1997 and features an appearance by Ernest Borgnine playing a 75-year old McHale. The filming location for New Caledonia is the same as the one used in the series. For more information on the main characters see the TV series McHale's Navy. The movie was released on DVD for Region 1 on January 31, 2011.

Hugh Hastings was an Australian writer best known for his play Seagulls Over Sorrento. He moved to England in 1936 determined to break into theatre as an actor or writer. He served in the British Royal Navy for over five years during World War II.

Elstree Studios (Shenley Road) Film and TV production facility in England

Elstree Studios on Shenley Road, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire is a British film and television production centre operated by Elstree Film Studios Limited. One of several facilities historically referred to as Elstree Studios, the Shenley Road studios originally opened in 1925.

The Midshipmaid is a 1931 British comedy play by Ian Hay and Stephen King-Hall, which ran for 227 performances at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London's West End. The following year Hay wrote a novel based on the play.

Seagulls Over Sorrento is a 1960 Australian television play. It was based on the popular stage play Seagulls Over Sorrento and was produced by Crawford Productions for Melbourne's HSV-7, airing on 1 May 1960 as an episode of "ACI Theatre". It screened on TCN-9 in Sydney on Sunday 12 June.

<i>Seagulls Over Sorrento</i> (play) 1949 play

Seagulls Over Sorrento is a play by the writer Hugh Hastings, an Australian who had served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. It was first staged for a single performance at the Comedy Theatre in London's West End in 1949 before embarking on a lengthy run of 1,551 performances between 14 June 1950 and 13 March 1954 mainly at the Apollo Theatre and then transferring briefly to the Duchess Theatre. The West End cast included John Gregson, Nigel Stock, Bernard Lee, Ronald Shiner and William Hartnell. Shiner and Hartnell, in particular, were singled out for praised by critics A Broadway version ran for only 12 performances at the John Golden Theatre.



  1. 1 2 3 The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. Johnson and Smiedt 1999, p. 130.
  3. "Australian makes grade in London." The Sunday Herald , 20 November 1949, p. 6. Retrieved: 10 January 2014.
  4. TCM "Screenplay info: 'Seagulls Over Sorrento'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: 21 April 2016.
  5. 1 2 3 4 TCM "Notes: 'Seagulls Over Sorrento'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: 21 April 2016.
  6. "Seagulls Over Sorrento". Internet Broadway Database.
  7. " Australian wrtiter' big success in U.K." The Sydney Morning Herald , 14 November 1952, p. 3. Retrieved: 10 January 2014.
  8. "People in the news." The Sunday Times , Perth, 5 December 1954, p. 2. Retrieved: 10 January 2014.
  9. "£10,000 for play by Austn." The Mail , 12 August 1950, p. 9. Retrieved: 10 January 2014.
  10. "Australian's play is big hit in West End." The Australian Women's Weekly , 24 February 1951, p. 15. Retrieved: 10 January 2014.
  11. TCM Music: 'Seagulls Over Sorrento'." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: 21 April 2016.
  12. IMDB Release dates: 'Seagulls Over Sorrento'." IMDb. Retrieved: 21 April 2016.
  13. "Aust Show Under Fire". Sydney Morning Herald. 11 March 1962. p. 5.


  • Johnson, Rob and David Smiedt. Boom-Boom: A Century of Australian Comedy. Sydney, Australia: Hodder & Stoughton, 1999. ISBN   978-0-7336-0938-1.