Until They Sail.
Drama/Romance. World War II. Not Rated. Recommended for family viewing, with kids ages 13 and up.
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Until They Sail is a one hour, thirty-five minute, black-and-white Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 1957 release directed by Robert Wise with an all-star cast: Jean Simmons, Paul Newman, Joan Fontaine and Piper Laurie, which I recommend for family viewing.
As parents, we have all been in search of a wholesome, enjoyable movie to watch with our family on a Friday night. Many of us have walked into the Classic section at our local video store but been lost in the many selections offered. I am hoping, with this column, to recommend both vintage and/or family-oriented movies which I’ve seen that are noteworthy and entertaining and which offer a refreshing break from the violence, sex, and profanity that abound in many of the newer movie releases.
Until They Sail takes place in 1945, during World War II, primarily in the small town of Christchurch, New Zealand. This movie was based upon the story by novelist James A. Michener, who also authored two other now famous novels of the Pacific, “Sayonara” and “South Pacific.”
Until They Sail begins when all the men in Christchurch have gone off to war, and the story follows the lives and loves of the four Leslie sisters, and the way their lives were affected with a husband or boyfriend away at war. During some of the time New Zealand service men were away, American GIs were stationed in New Zealand while on leave from fighting in the Pacific.
One of the sisters, Barbara, played by Jean Simmons, had only been married for one month before her husband sailed away to war. The oldest sister, Ann, played by Joan Fontaine, found it extremely difficult to see respectful, decent New Zealand women, both single and married, becoming emotionally involved with American GIs, because of their extreme loneliness, and in many cases, the loss of a loved one through death. A U.S. service man, Major Harding, played by Paul Newman, also struggled and wrestled with the issues of love, fidelity, and tragedy which Ann and her sisters faced.
A highlight in this movie is the unusual, touching friendship that formed between Barbara Leslie and Major Harding, and their sincere desire to conduct an adult friendship that was both enjoyable and morally proper during a very turbulent and confusing time of life, war. Their portrayal of two young, attractive adults, from different countries, who may never have met except through the unique circumstances of World War II, is very convincing and touches the deepest part of the heart. If you’re an adult parent, like me, you may be briefly transported back in time by this story, and fondly remember that season of life when you were single and the possibilities of finding true love and marriage were ripe and exciting.
I would suggest that you watch this movie with your children aged 13 or older, but children from ages 7-13 can watch it, too, (after all, it’s not rated) provided they have appropriate input and discussion with their parents about the movie’s themes. The themes you may want to discuss with your kids of any age are: the meaning of true love, why fidelity in marriage is important, and what were some of the unusual difficulties faced by the Leslie sisters because of the war. You can ask them which of the sisters made wise life choices, and which ones made poor choices.
If your kids are younger than six-years-old, it’s probably fine for them to watch with you because many of the deeper themes touched on will be above their heads. Be warned, however, there is one death scene that may be too frightening for children younger than six, and which I think even children ages six to ten should be shielded from seeing. That’s one great advantage of watching movies at home, you can always press the “pause” or “stop” button, and “fast forward” on “mute” till the scary scene is over. With the exception of this one death scene, every other scene can be safely viewed by young children.
There is no movie that can please a person in every way, and, on top of that, be perfectly suitable for kids of all ages. With some forethought, however, or a recommendation from a friend, we can find wholesome, entertaining movies that can make family night memorable and fun. Until They Sail was well-done and is worth seeing.
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Copyright 2010 by Jennifer Anne Fabregas Messing. Contact the author for reprint information.
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Author, poet, columnist, and speaker Jennifer Anne Messing of Portland, Oregon, is a wife, and mother of three children, ages 22, 16, and 9. She has a bachelor’s degree in Religious Education and a diploma in Journalism. A past president of the Oregon Christian Writers, Jennifer Anne has had 175+ articles, movie reviews, and poems published in 55 different magazines and books including The East County Gazette, The Christian Journal, Bible Advocate, Evangel, Live, Standard, The Gem, Christian Fiction Online, Nudges from God, and Romancing the Soul. Readers can find out more about Jennifer Anne Messing’s books and speaking, and can contact her at www.JenniferAnneMessing.com.