The Captain's Paradise
The Captain's Paradise
The Captain's Paradise FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by Anthony Kimmins
Produced by Anthony Kimmins
Written by Alec Coppel
Nicholas Phipps
Starring Alec Guinness
Celia Johnson
Yvonne De Carlo
Music by Malcolm Arnold
Cinematography Edward Scaife
Edited by Gerald Turney-Smith
Distributed by British Lion Films (UK)
Lopert Pictures Corporation
United Artists (USA)
Release date
9 June 1953
Running time
93 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office £146,548(UK)[1]

The Captain's Paradise is a 1953 British comedy film starring Alec Guinness and directed by Anthony Kimmins. Guinness plays the captain of a passenger ship that travels regularly between Gibraltar and Spanish Morocco. The film begins at just before the end of the story, which is then told in a series of flashbacks.

In 1958, the story was made into a Broadway musical comedy, retitled Oh, Captain!.


In early 1950s North Africa, a man (Alec Guinness) is escorted through an angry, clamouring crowd by a platoon of soldiers. They enter a fort and it is clear that he is to be executed. The commander (Peter Bull) orders the men to line up in two rows and gives the order to fire. As the shots ring out, the scene changes to a ferry ship, the "Golden Fleece" in the docks as the passengers embark for the two days' journey to Gibraltar. Amongst the crew, there is much dismay, and the chief officer, Carlos Ricco (Charles Goldner) takes to his cabin with the clear intention of getting drunk. He is interrupted by an elderly gentleman, Lawrence St. James (Miles Malleson), who had come to speak his nephew, Captain Henry St. James on an unspecified, but urgent, matter. He is profoundly shocked to learn that the grief he had encountered on the ship is due to the death of the man he had travelled from England to see. He begs Ricco, to explain what has led to such an event. He learns that his nephew Henry was the prosperous owner and skipper of this small passenger ship which he captained as it ferried regularly to and fro between Gibraltar and Kalique, a port in North Africa.

In Morocco, he lives with his lover, Nita (Yvonne de Carlo) - a young, hot-blooded, exotic lady. She is 13 years younger than he and refers to him as "her Jimmy". He takes her out every night to expensive, fashionable restaurants and night clubs, where they lead a loud and wild lifestyle. In Gibraltar, he shares his life with Maud (Celia Johnson) - his devoted, domesticated wife, just three years his junior - living a respectable, sober existence, and going to bed every night no later than ten o'clock with mugs of cocoa. St James gives Nita lingerie. He gives Maud a vacuum cleaner. Both are delighted. He has found a perfect existence - his paradise.

Growing perhaps complacent, St. James makes a careless mistake. This leads to Ricco, up till then believing Nita to be the captain's wife, discovering that the true Mrs. St James is living in Gibraltar. Ricco is glad to assist St. James in maintaining the deception and is soon called into action when Maud flies to Kalique and by chance meets Nita. St. James arranges to have Maud arrested before she and Nita realise that they are married to the same man. He convinces Maud that Morocco is a dangerous place and that she should never return there.

The years pass by. Maud has twins. She is thrilled with her two boys, but when they are sent to school in England, Maud is no longer enamoured with her existence. She wants to dance and drink gin. On the other hand, Nita wants to stay home and cook for her man. Henry is dismayed and makes every effort to keep everything just the way it was. His attempts to maintain the status quo result in both women taking lovers. When St James discovers Nita's infidelity, he leaves the flat as she continues the argument with her lover, Absalom. Nita shoots and kills her lover. In order to protect Nita, Captain St. James claims that he was the killer.

The execution is then shown, but the firing squad swing their rifles to the left and shoot their commanding officer. St. James hands them money and walks away.


Award nominations

Alec Coppel was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Story.[2]


Included as part of the Alec Guinness Collection,The Captain's Paradise was released on DVD in September 2002.


  1. ^ Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000 p499
  2. ^ "Academy Awards Database: The Captain's Paradise". Retrieved 2015. 

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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