A Fish Out Of Water – Rediscovering ‘Miranda’ (UK 1948 – 80 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - July 16, 2015
A Fish Out Of Water – Rediscovering ‘Miranda’ (UK 1948 – 80 mins)

The best mermaid movie that’s not called ‘Splash’, the hugely enjoyable ‘Miranda’ is a sweet-natured fantasy-comedy with a healthy splash of romance. It also made something of a star out of the pretty, husky-voiced Glynis Johns.

While vacationing in Cornwall, young physician Paul Martin (Griffith Jones) catches more than he bargained for while doing a spot of fishing, a lonely mermaid called Miranda Trewella (Glynis Johns). Persuading Paul to take her back to London with him, he disguises her tail, sits her in a wheelchair and says that she is a disabled patient who has come to stay with him and his wife Clare (Googie Withers – who’s also unaware she’s a mermaid). Of course it’s not long before strained relationships get in the way of things as the naturally flirtatious Miranda bewitches all those around her. However, once the truth is revealed and fearing the public reaction, Miranda decides to go back to her natural habitat, where a little surprise awaits her!

A big hit at the British Box Office, the story may be slight but the cast more than keep the film afloat. Adorable Glynis Johns was the ideal choice to play the enchanting Mermaid. With her sweet voice, flowing locks and wide eyes, she perfectly captured the sense of wonder the bewitching Miranda shows, and handled her mermaid costume very well in her swimming scenes. The wonderful Margaret Rutherford had one of her eccentric roles as Miranda’s excitable nurse, and Johns’ future ‘Mary Poppins’ co-star; David Tomlinson was fun as Paul’s chauffeur who falls under Miranda’s spell. Both Johns and Rutherford would reprise their roles six years later in the colourful sequel ‘Mad About Men’. I liked the end title card where instead of using the usual words ‘The End’, they replaced them with ‘Fin’ – nice touch!

Peter Blackmore wrote the script based on his own play, while director Ken Annakin would later make the more ambitious comedies ‘Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines’ (’65) and ‘Monte Carlo or Bust!’ (’69).

Incidentally, across the pond that year saw the release of another fishy tale; ‘Mr Peabody & the Mermaid’, with William Powell and the lovely Ann Blyth as a non-speaking mermaid.

A nostalgic afternoon treat, ‘Miranda’ is a fun fantasy lightly sprinkled with racy jokes and strategically placed hair! If you suspend belief and allow yourself to be taken in, you’ll find that (like Miranda) this is a delightful little movie well worth catching.

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