Friday, January 21, 2011

Cavegirl: Beth Rogan from Mysterious Island

Mysterious Island (1961) was directed by Cy Endfield of Zulu fame. Loosely based on the novel by Jules Verne it tells the story of some American Civil War soldiers who escape from prison in a balloon. Blown off course, inevitably, they land on a mysterious island (er..). Where they encounter a number of Ray Harryhausen monsters, some shipwrecked English ladies, some pirates and Captain Nemo, splendidly played by one of our favourite character actors, Herbert Lom.

The opening scenes of the war are all stock footage and feature artillery from the First World War rather than the ACW (Agent Triple P worries about these things, sadly).

The exteriors of the scenes where they escape from the prisoner of war camp were shot in Shepperton Square which is about two miles from where Triple P's  mother lives (and Triple P used to live). Shepperton Studios, where the film was shot, is nearby. If you look at this model of the square used in the film and these modern pictures of the buildings and church you can see it looks rather more English than Southern States American!

In the live action shots of the balloon taking off you can clearly see the TV aeriels on the buildings in the background.  Shepperton Church tower, incidentally, was demolished by a Martian war machine in HG Wells' book the War of the Worlds!

The beach in the film with some rather ropey matte work in the background

Sa Conca beach today. The rocks on the left are the ones in the foreground of the top picture.

The scenes on the island were filmed on Sa Conca Beach, near Girona in Catalonia. Like most of that coast the Spaniards have let it get hideously over-developed in the last 45 years and it certainly couldn't pass for a deserted island any more, sadly, as the beach has been surrounded by villas.

More views of Sa Conca today

The Harryhausen creatures in the film consist of a giant crab, giant bees and a giant prehistoric bird. It turns out that all of these are the results of experiments by Captain Nemo to feed the starving of the world. Although a diet of crab, honey and giant chicken is an odd selection of staple foods to choose to save humanity with. In fact, they were intending to have dinosaurs on the island, hence the presence of the prehistoric bird, but they were dropped from the film. This is why you have the odd assortment of creatures that you do. Surely a giant sheep would have been more use as a food source but it wouldn't have been very threatening, we suppose; although we have always found sheep rather sinister with their nasty looking teeth.

" Maybe it's not such a good place to build a villa!"

The best of these monsters is the giant bird. the encounter with it is up with the roping of the dinosaur in Valley of Gwangi and the fight with the Allosaurus in One Million Years BC.

The crab model was built inside the shell of a real crab whilst two live crabs were used for close-ups, until Harryhausen had them for dinner.

"Anyone got some brown bread and mayonnaisse?" thinks the crab.

So, this is all well and good, you say. An enjoyable way to while away a wet sunday afternoon (not as enjoyable, perhaps as watching Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman wrestling in mud, but not bad). But where is the cavegirl?

  Look! She's coming out of a cave!

The young female lead of Mysterious Island was an English actress called Beth Rogan who played an aristocratic young lady called Elena Fairchild who was washed ashore on the island after a shipwreck.

Exactly what you want to find washed up on a beach if you are stranded on a desert island
Arriving on the island with her aunt the two women prove extremely useful for domestic duties.  Initially living in a hut on the beach they move to a cave they discover.  This definitely qualifies Beth as a cavegirl!

"So, we're trapped in this honeycomb. Would you like to feel my pole?"

Although she arrives on the island in a conventional nineteenth century dress up her aunt is eventually persuaded to run her up a very natty little doeskin mknickers and minidress number which certainly qualifies in my book as cavegirl attire .

This is a very cute outfit indeed!

Born Elizabeth Puckle, the daughter of a major in the Royal Marines, Beth became a Rank starlet in the late fifties. She made a few films but Mysterious Island was her second to last.

She appeared in Playboy, sadly completely dressed, in their pictorial on The Girls of London in the October 1962 issue.

Beth in Playboy

She then married a couple of English aristocrats (one after the other!) and retired from the screen becoming a jet setter and spending her time in the South of France.

Beth in the fifties

Beth in the South of France in the sixties

She became known as Jeni Cassel having married the fourth Baronet of Cassel.

Beth today

She had two children but is now divorced and lives in Sussex.  Recently, she modelled in a bikini again for the Daily Mail at the age of 75!

Mysterious Island publicity shot.

As a cavegirl she looks very fine indeed so earns a Cavegirl Rating 7/10

1 comment:


    Beth Phoenix in One Million Years B.C. tribute.