The Billy Zane Sinking Ship Tetralogy, Part Four (2005) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
Also known as "Three" or "Survival Island"
I'd like to know how many times commercial filmmakers are going to remake The Admirable Crichton. I, for one, have been sick of these desert island class-reversal films since before many of you were born.
You never heard of The Admirable Crichton? I suppose I never would have either, had I not I majored in English Lit, with a specialty in Modern British and Irish Drama. (Very useful for making a living, right? Of course, that was the late sixties, when making a living was considered a sell-out.) At any rate, it is a play written by the same odd little man who wrote Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie, and the two plays were written at about the same time, just after the turn of the century. You can read the play online if you really care to, for it is in the public domain.
The plot was essentially this:
Rich couple gets shipwrecked with their butler. In the new social dynamic created on the island, the butler becomes the leader, because he is the only one with the grit and intelligence for survival. The aristocrats take orders from him. When everyone is saved, the Lords and Ladies return to their high station, and Crichton goes back to being a butler.
If your girlfriend wants to drag you to this play, don't count on any hot butler-on-girl action. This was not a predecessor of Red Shoe Diaries, although the condescending Lady did eventually find herself falling in love with her dynamic, ingenious butler - but only until they were rescued. J.M. Barrie was not much interested in sex, if at all. Although he married, some of his biographers have suggested that his marriage was never consummated and that he died a virgin. The relationship between Barrie's life and his most famous concept, a juvenile frozen in boyhood, would certainly have been an interesting topic for the analytical skills of his contemporary, Dr. Freud, because Barrie himself never grew up in many ways. He stopped growing in boyhood (he was about five feet tall), and apparently never developed any adult sexual capability. "Boys cannot love" is how he was said to have explained his impotence to his wife Mary, shortly before she divorced his tiny ass. In other words, he wasn't anything like Johnny Depp in that movie.
The Admirable Crichton itself has been made into several eponymous motion pictures, the first one coming out of the silent film era, and the most memorable starring Kenneth More as Crichton. As the twentieth century progressed and the leisure classes developed an ever increasing interest in sex, various filmmakers with a healthier libido than Mr. Barrie started to realize that the entire dynamic of The Admirable Crichton really ought to have a sexual component. After all, as the "dominant male" on the island, wouldn't Crichton also get the hottest babe(s)?
Enter Lina Wertmuller and her "Swept Away ..." in 1974, in which the guy from the lower classes asserts his complete domination over the Lady when they get shipwrecked. He knows she can't survive unless he provides for her, and she knows it too, so he uses this advantage for his amusement, beating her, abusing her, raping her, turning her into his menial slave, and so forth. Swept Away was remade by Guy Ritchie into a notorious stinker in 2002. Ritchie chose unwisely to feature a certain non-actress named Madonna as the rich bitch. I doubt if he had many options, since he was married to her.
The most recent version of the story was called Three in the theaters for its European release, or Survival Island in the Region 1 DVD release. Here's how it told the tale:
A rich couple (Billy Zane and Kelly Brook) take a private yacht into the South Seas. It sinks. What is the deal with Billy Zane and boats? This is the fourth film in which he has been on a sinking ship! (Dead Calm, Titanic, Cleopatra). At any rate, Zane is nowhere to be seen when Kelly washes ashore on L'isle D'Gilligan with Manuel, the hired hand. The usual Admirable Crichton dynamic takes over. Manuel is the one with survival skills, and he's a horny guy, so she becomes dependent on the handsome hunk. This actually seems to be working out quite well until the scriptwriter remembers that the Gilligan's Island theme song mentions "the millionaire and his wife." Enter the millionaire, who washes up on the same island. Oh, you know it's gonna get nasty in a "two men enter, one man leaves" kind of way, except that this island thunderdome involves Zany Bill instead of Mad Max.
Zane goes mad imagining his wife shagging enthusiastically with the other guy, so he hatches a very convoluted revenge plot. First he finds the hull of a boat, and seems to be planning to leave alone, so the other two steal the boat and leave Zane behind. As it turns out, that was exactly what he wanted. He is the only one of the three who knew that the boat was not seaworthy, and it sinks! The plot twists continue in the same vein when Brook and the other guy swim back.
North American distributors were afraid, very afraid. Not only did the film seem to be yet another rehash of the megabomb Swept Away, but writer/director Stewart Rafill had previously created two of IMDb's all-time bottom 100, and a near miss!
Those distributors were right to be frightened. It is, as expected, a very weak movie. Rafill didn't even seem to try on this film. Not only is it too similar to Swept Away, but it's missing even the most fundamental elements of continuity. In the very first skinny-dipping scene, for example, Kelly Brook takes off her bikini bottom, and we see her naked bum as she enters the water. As she leaves, only a minute or two later, it is clear that she is still wearing the bottom - even though the servant - on camera in the background - is yelling "nice ass, senora!" Oh yeah, and there's a voodoo curse involved as well, prompting various irrelevant cutaways to frenzied, drum-driven island rituals, all of which seem to be from a completely different movie.
Three's distribution was further complicated by the fact Billy Zane was rumored to be doing everything he could to block its uncut release after he and Brook became a real-life couple. It seem that there was some dispute about nude scenes in which Ms Brook shows off a nicely rounded bum and a very generous chest! Perhaps Zane's greatest problem was that many of the sex scenes involve Brook loving long-time with a hunky guy from Argentina named Juan Di Pace. Whatever Zane's arguments may have been, they seem to have had no legal merit, and the film is now available on DVD. It never did get a North American run in the theaters, but it somehow managed a theatrical run in the UK, prompting a classic BBC review:
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