On an island with you and you, and you…
Six men get into plane trouble and land on a mystical Pacific island full of women, gorgeous women, gorgeous fierce women.
Mysterious Island Of Beautiful Women Trailer 1979, Video Detective
In a case of film history, Peter Lawford got stuck on an island with Esther Williams in On An Island With You (1948). Now he’s on a desert island with Dallas (1978-91) star Deborah Shelton (
yay yes, I did find a Dallas connection) and her galpals. In Dallas, Shelton played in the words of Sue Ellen; “that Winger tramp” aka Mandy Winger, the only woman who won the heart of Sue Ellens on-off husband and lover, JR Ewing. But Mandy also indirectly helped Sue Ellen seek revenge on her ex with the help of a lingerie company. But enough you cry, (well if you are my mother) and on with the review…
So I watched the TV Movie, Mysterious Island of Beautiful Women (1979) – for this Peter Lawford themed blogathon – after a failed attempt to enjoy They Only Kill Their Masters (1972). This latter film was a cinema released film (!) where James Garner went full tilt Jim Rockford. This was to clear a Doberman dog from murder.
It looked a treat with some great co-stars with Garner and Peter Lawford starring with Katherine Ross, Hal Holbrook and June Allyson. But sadly I kinda agreed with Roger Ebert HERE, who said about Garner’s part in this
when they’re asked to carry a role almost entirely with their own mannerisms, a kind of quiet desperation sets in.
This “quiet desperation” also seemed to set in for Darlin Husband and me. This as we doggedly – pun intended – watched this movie and then we could bear it no longer and I checked out Lawford’s filmography once more. Darlin Husband then suggested I return to my original choice of Mysterious Island of Beautiful Women. So I did, and Kristen was lovely enough to let me change back.
This TV Movie was made at the end of the 1970s is an odd one. The plot starts in 1954 with stock footage of the French Indo China War with scenes of hootings and explosions. This is intercut with scenes from the 1979 TV movie which try (emphasis on try) to blend in with the footage, but they only succeed comically. These scenes show some nuns and schoolgirls heading for a plane by bus. After embarking on the plane, it flies over the Pacific Ocean. There is a storm and the plane is forced to land on an island.
Then it’s flashforward to 1979 for the film present day. On another plane, there are frayed tempers for some off-screen reason that we never know. After an electrical storm, we never see, the radio and equipment are fucked. Six
manly 70s men discover that the pilot has los t the plot his bearings and they are somewhere in the Pacific. Even the telecard is that vague.
The plane contains in no particular order an oil magnate, Gordon, (Peter Lawford), his bodyguard, JJ (Guich Koock), the perpetually angry guy Gordon fired, Wendell (Clint Walker), the young guy who quit his job, Mike (Steven Keats), the (alcoholic) pilot, Stu (Sandy McPeak) and some poor sod with bandaged up eyes who was involved in a gas accident, called Danny (Michael McGreevey). Then one of the men spots an island…
Meanwhile, on the island, there are stock footage but delightful scenes showing monkeys and alligators. There are also a lot of scantily dressed women with spears – which have been pimped up girly style with feathers by the prop guy – who spot the stock footage plane. The men’s plane has now landed in the sea, but luckily it’s also a seaplane! (What are the odds).
Then we see some young women bathing – cue jiggle factor – with a racially diverse group of lovelies. These are those schoolgirls from 1954 scenes all grown up, and I am assuming at least one of them has hairdressing skills and an epilator. And they are as beautiful as the title says with at least two real life beauty queen “actresses” in the cast.
The women are the older Lizabeth (Jaime Lyn Bauer), the man hating matriarchal figure and the others were – as we find out later – named after cartoon characters. But tbh their names sound more like Playboy Playmates with Bambi (Deborah Shelton), Snow (Kathryn Davis), Flower (Rosalind Chao), Chocolate (Jayne Kennedy) and Jo Jo (Susie Coelho). In a WTF moment, Chocolate is black! I kid you not…
The men disembark the plane and go super practical despite the incessant niggling between them. At first, they believe the island is uninhabited until they see footprints in the sand. JJ goes hunting – with Gordon – for food, and shoots a (stock footage) wild boar in seconds. Meanwhile, Mike spots a skull and an old Air Force jacket when he’s collecting firewood with Wendell. Mike – obviously the brains not the brawn – becomes convinced after some handy detective work that there is a plane with reusable fuel on the island.
A painted warrior approaches the plane and is shot by the pilot. Another warrior is shot on the beach after Wendell and Mike spot him chasing after Snow with a spear. Meanwhile, the women are praying in English to some weird furry bird head stuck on a pole next to a plane propeller. Snow warns them about the men and the warrior men, and she calls the warriors “Headchoppers”.
The much older looking men now discover that there are young nubile English speaking women on the island, and vice versa. This could turn into a middle aged man’s wet dream, but it doesn’t. Gordon – in his English dulcet tones – mansplains to the other men about how they can get the girls to help them. Showing he’s an old chauvinist at heart, Gordon says they have the dream bargaining tools to get these women on their side. This as he shows the men a collection of mirrors, frying pans and knives and forks from the plane. (er.. yay!)
The women all seem incredibly dim, hate all men, and don’t trust them. They all look to Lizabeth as their leader and mother figure. Lizabeth then consults their oracle, “Sister” to offer guidance and advice, and only she speaks to “Sister”. The women’s English is basic and they can’t count.
After Gordon and his buddies show their trading stuff to the girls – apart from Lizabeth – they drooled over these like all their Christmases had come at once. In exchange, the men offer to be manly men and to kill the Headchoppers for them with guns, manly guns. There are then bonding scenes with the men and the women.
These women find these men not as fearsome as those Headchoppers (warrior men). In conversation with Gordon, Flower tells him that the Headchoppers visit the island to kill them or have their babies. She adds that a few of the women have died since their arrival on the island. One was eaten by a “giant fish” and two were beheaded by Headchoppers. Also, some women have got pregnant after the Headchoppers visit. Bambi had a daughter who lived, but Jo Jo’s baby son died.
Love is in the air as Mike grabs Snow for a kiss after she plays on his harmonica (!), and then he ended up giving her “more kiss” at her request. So a few of the women doubt Lizabeth when she tells all the women, that these six manly men should be killed after they kill the Headchoppers… especially after Snow hears from Flower that Lizabeth killed Jo Jo’s son as he was a boy.
Lawford and Keats had most of the scenes with the girls. Peter Lawford did a grand job of being a patriarchal figure, as the men’s boss, Gordon Duvall. Flower obviously saw Gordon as a trusted silver fox or father figure. Lawford’s English dulcet tones mansplained just about everything relevant to the film offering exposition and his pop psychology on the girls.
Information about the plot, was luckily found in a diary that Keats read to Snow. Of course, this scene was embellished with accompanying flashbacks. And went on and on and on, but only some of it is relevant. These unintentionally comic tell-all scenes blended with unneeded exposition about the girls – most of which had been seen in the first scene in 1954 – told of how Lizabeth came to power and more about “Sister”.
These two men seemed more likeable than the others. McGreevey had a bandage over his “burnt” eyes for the whole movie and spent the film complaining of pain. Walker’s Wendell had a massive anger problem for no apparent reason and he really was like a bear with a sore head. McPeak was usually seen slumped in the plane or the beach in a drunken stupor.
As for the girls, Chao enlightened us of the women’s plotlines and expedition. Davis was wonderful as the love interest for Keats and her later scenes with him showed some definite romance. But this was sadly not acted on again in a montage. Bauer’s Lizabeth seemed was more frightening than the Headchoppers. Shelton spent her time screaming “Sister” at the top of her voice and running away from the men.
In my research, I read that this TV Movie title has the alternate title, Island of Sister Theresa. This does sound more misleading, despite the religious affiliations of these island women. Although the women had the jiggle factor (as implied in that title) it reminded me of Airport 75, where Karen Black was given help to fly a plane to land by some 70s manly men. As she too got manly help after Chuck Heston was winched in to help her.
In this TV Movie, it’s implied that the girls had had about 20 years of fending for themselves and fighting the Headchoppers, during times of raping and pillaging. Now it seemed that men thought they could help them fight the warriors when it seems they had done a good job up until those men arrived. This plot then setting back women’s lib once more. So I am surprised the girls didn’t find another more practical use for that frying pan – as Billy Crystal found out in Throw Momma from the Train (1987) – for starters and for those other sharp implements as mirrored in many past more convincing on-screen film and telly moments.
Weeper Rating: 0/10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 710
Hulk Rating: / 10
2nd Annual Peter Lawford Blogathon 2021 No 24
This review was entered into Hoofers and Honeys of the Classic Movie Era / KN Winiarski Writes’s 2nd Annual Peter Lawford Blogathon. Other reviews with this cast include Deborah Shelton in Dallas and The Fall Guy. Peter Lawford starred in Fantasy Island, The Love Boat and Buona Sera Mrs Campbell. Steven Keats starred in Magnum PI, Moonlighting, Murder She Wrote and The Fall Guy. Jaime Lyn Bauer in Knots Landing, The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. Clint Walker and Jayne Kennedy in The Love Boat. Rosalind Chao in MASH. Sandy McPeak in Kelly’s Heroes, Dynasty and Knight Rider.