The Seekers 1954 – In Technicolor

The Seekers is a 1954 film in beautiful Technicolor starring Jack Hawkins and Glynis Johns – and directed by one of my favourites Ken Annakin.

This is a real adventure film that could and should have been so much better than it was. Ken Annakin said in his Autobiography that the film was ‘not his finest hour’. He got on well with Glynis Johns who he had worked with before and he liked Jack Hawkins but felt that he was wrongly cast – as ‘he was too old and too well fed for the part’

In my view he was right on this. With a different leading man this could have been really good.

Laya Raki was cast as a Maori and is filmed swimming in a lake devoid of clothing – which nowadays would not have raised an eyebrow but then it did.

Opera singer Inia Te Wiata was also cast – he seemed to be on British Television quite a bit I remember throught the fifties.

Kenneth Williams played a young soldier and was quite good in this straight acting role.

Scenes above from the Film Premier in Wellington on 24th June 1954

Special mention for the brilliant Cinematography – in glorious Technicolor by Geoffrey Unsworth , shot on location in New Zealand , Whakatane, Bay of Plenty, North Island, New Zealand and Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, UK . Atmospheric and evocative score from William Alwyn and musical conductor as usual Muir Matheson .

The film titled ¨The Seekers¨ or ¨Land of fury¨ was professionally directed by Ken Annakin, containing some quite exciting moments . Ken Annakin had quite a diverse early career, including as a trainee income tax inspector in Hull. He got into film making during the War – His feature film debut, Holiday Camp (1947), was a comedy drama about a Cockney family on holiday in an English summer. It was made for the Rank Organisation and was a quite successful – I loved it – and it spawned three sequels, all of which he directed. 

His big break came when he was chosen to direct ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’ for Walt Disney at Denham Film Studios – a film which, up to that time was the most expensive film ever made here.

Ken was well up to the task and the film did very well at the Box Office on a Worldwide scale. A wonderful film that was and is !!!

Wonderful Shots of New Zealand ABOVE

Above – Jack Hawkins

Jack Hawkins and Noel Purcell

Noel Purcell ABOVE

An Irish Actor who was around quite a bit throughout the Fifties and after. One thing that has come to mind whilst writing this article is that I realised that Noel must have got used to long distance travel in his film years – first he was in Fiji in 1949 to film The Blue Lagoon – a mega trip in those days – then to Tauranga in New Zealand for this one – and a few years later in 1962 he was in Tahiti for a few months with Mutiny of the Bounty – Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard.

He certainly chose some wonderful locations – or they were chosen for him I should say.

Laya Raki ABOVE was a German born former model who won a leading role in The Seekers. Not too long after this she married Americal actor Ron Randell and they had a long and very happy marriage.

She was not someone who missed a trick when it came to publicity though and I love this story about her :

Laya Raki caused a scandal at a wine presentation at the Hotel Gehrhus during the Berlin Film Festival when her gown suddenly split open. Fellow guest Jayne Mansfield is devastated by losing all the publicity.
This was in 1961

The Seekers 1954

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