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Journey for Three Film (Full Length) – 1950 Documentary Drama

Journey for Three

Film (Full Length) – 1950 Documentary Drama

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Hi, Neil. The locations in "Lord of the Rings" were stunning indeed! When I saw them upon an enormous screen at the cine-complex at Surrey Quays, Bermondsey they sent shivers down my spine. And they were right for the action of the three films, but I was hoping to see shots of all the other extraordinarily different kinds of scenery that exists in NZ! The LTRs showed only the majesty of the South Island hill country, while intimate "green scenes" were shot in hills just north of Wellington. I suppose it was silly of me to hope so see, for example, the bubblings and eruptions of the North Island's thermal area as well!

Neil, if you are tempted to visit New Zealand and if you can afford quality accommodation, may I suggest you avoid all hotels and organise a schedule using the hundreds of superb lodges there are throughout the country. They are all stunningly featured in the Friars Guide to New Zealand Accommodation for the Discerning Traveller. Get hold of a copy and it'll at least whet your appetite to visit the country.

David Cade

David Cade 3 Feb 2011 - 12.07am

And thank you, David, for your interesting and touching feedback. This was the first critical comment I have ever posted on the internet and it encourages me to post some more. Incidentally, I should have indicated at the end of my piece that I'm based in London. In fact, I've never visited NZ (though I have spent time in Australia). I guess I'll just have to content myself with the locations in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy instead. Astute cinéastes will note that the saga shares with Journey for Three scenes of high jeopardy in the mountains. And, of course, sexlessness - certainly nothing so racy as the caper you describe.
- Neil Hornick (London)

Neil Hornick

Neil Hornick 2 Feb 2011 - 11.52am

Thanks, Neil, for verifying that "Journey for Three" was shown in British cinemas, and as early as 1950. My parents arrived in New Zealand in 1952, so it's possible they saw it and were inspired by it. They had had a particularly traumatic time during the war and I think the need to escape and get away from it all may well have caused them to overlook those flaws you have pointed out. If anything, I expect they may have found the vision of New Zealand presented to them in "Journey for Three" too good to be true! They certainly went doo-lally in the Kiwi countryside once they arrived. I vividly remember their getting lost late at night somewhere up in the deserted hill-country beyond Queenstown and delighting in just pulling up by the side of a track, collecting piles of bracken, piling it all on the ground, laying a blanket on top to create a bed, and then positioning the car over it all so that we could sleep underneath with some protection! It was 1957 and I was 3. I guess they had got into the spirit of things. Even back then, I doubt they would have got up to the same capers in Britain!

David Cade

David Cade 28 Jan 2011 - 09.17am

I can verify that this film was on general release in British cinemas because I first saw it at my local Odeon in 1950, aged 11, in tandem with Disney’s live-action Treasure Island. It seems to me well-nigh miraculous that 60 years later I’m so easily able to access and see this and other rarities again, for free, on the internet, in the comfort of my study.

Not that Journey for Three exactly stayed in my memory – unlike Robert Newton’s Long John Silver. Just about all I can vaguely recall now is the face of the leading lady and the final glacier rescue sequence.

I hadn’t known until seeing this film again that the Ten Pound Poms scheme applied to New Zealand as well as Australia. Nor that the only foodstuff still rationed in NZ in 1948 (when the film was made) was butter. This general freedom from post-war rationing is one of the attractions of immigration offered to three Brits who meet and become friends on the boat going out: Harry, from Bermondsey is bound for a dam-building job in the outback. Margaret will train as a nurse. And Scots lassie Cassie will work in a wool mill.

As the letters and occasional encounters between the threesome attest, the two young women settle down easily enough; but Harry, who doesn’t care for the dust of the outback, his rudimentary quarters, and the crude joking of his workmates, decides not to complete his two-year stint, despite a growing tendresse between him and Margaret. However, when word comes through that a climber has broken his leg high on a mountain glacier, Harry volunteers to join the rescue team and puts to good use his wartime experience in Normandy as a stretcher-bearer. His experience of genuine mate-ship during this climactic sequence settles the question of his future – he’ll stay.

As if it could have been otherwise. Today the film seems hokey and naïve and the relationships sanitized. It doesn’t help that the acting is amateurish and that the unconvincing gent playing Harry, supposedly from Bermondsey, sounds Antipodean even before he gets there; the sweet-faced Margaret has an odd quasi-American accent but this is explained by a spell as a wartime evacuee in the USA.

In its favour, the film’s black-and-white cinematography is excellent, and it does take care to show that newcomers from abroad could meet with problems of adjustment. Still, as one of Harry’s mates affirms at the end, “New Zealand is a good place if you like plenty of sport and outdoor life.” Not so naff a sentiment when you consider that only four years later, in 1953, a stalwart New Zealander - Sir Edmund Hillary (whom I once saw in the flesh) - did wonders for his country’s image by scaling Everest. That said, as evidence that times have changed since 1948, it’s a bit startling today to see the rescue team offering the injured man a cigarette to help ease his passage down the mountain.

Neil Hornick

Neil Hornick 28 Jan 2011 - 08.38am

Fascinating to see the film that inspired so many young Brits to journey out by ship to New Zealand in the 1950s. And fascinating to see the New Zealand that they then encountered at that time.

David Cade

David Cade 1 Oct 2010 - 11.25am

Thanks for the suggestion - Douglas Lilburn is noted on the credits page in the Music section but I have now added him to the credits as well.

16 Nov 2009 - 11.50am

Thanks for adding 'Journey for Three' but how about adding Douglas Lilburn to your overview credits. He also composed for 'Aspiring', which you already have within your offerings. You can find all you need regarding him
to add to your "People" section at:

Charles Eggen

Charles Eggen 16 Nov 2009 - 11.43am

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