The Little Hut (1957)

Susan (Ava Gardner) doesn’t have the ideal marriage. Wed to Sir Philip Ashlowe (Stewart Granger), a British noble, she feels neglected as he spends his time fulfilling stately duties.

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(Image via Cinemagia)

Desperate to reconnect, Susan convinces Philip that they should take a vacation on their yacht. Several friends are invited along, including Henry Brittingham-Brett (David Niven), with whom Susan incessantly flirts in attempt to make Philip jealous.

Setting sail on the high seas, Susan finds that even on the yacht, Philip never stops working. She plots with Henry to try to catch Philip’s attention.

But Susan might get the ultimate opportunity to work out her issues with Philip when a storm hits. The yacht sinks, leaving Henry, Philip, Susan, and the Ashlowes’ dog in a small lifeboat. Soon, they wash up on an uninhabited island, where they must work together to survive.

The Little Hut was directed by Mark Robson.

When I chose to watch The Little Hut, I was expecting a Mogambo-style sizzler, but this is actually much lighter in tone. (Shame on me for pigeon-holing Ava Gardner’s romantic films as steamy!)

Unfortunately, it’s also much more dull, especially prior to the shipwreck (which happens about 25 minutes in). Things pick up once the gang makes it to the island. It’s just Susan, her husband Philip, her “lover” Henry, and the dog… forced to confront their issues.

Still, when things picked up, I didn’t feel like the film’s full potential for situational comedy or for romantic tension were met. There’s a whole lot of talking, but also lots of side-stepping the big issue at hand throughout the majority of the film. And rather than struggling to survive in the midst of their quarrels, the group happens to land on an island full of food, with a fresh water source.

The shipwreck scene itself his hilarious and a highlight for lovers of the corn. That model boat flying through the air! That green screen! The effects are entertainingly bad.

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(Image via Doctor Macro)

And I will say, the characters’ resourcefulness in this plentiful environment adds a few fun bits to the film. They manage to build several shelters, a seashell telephone communication system, and a lookout tree-stand.

Aside from these little glimmers of enjoyment, there are two main highlights to the film: the big confrontation scene between Niven and Granger (which actually was very funny), and the performance by Ava Gardner. Though Ava’s character is unhappy in her marriage, she seems to take pure delight in toying with her husband. She adjusts brilliantly to island life, occupying herself with schemes and jokes at the expense of her two “loves.”

The Little Hut remains a mostly-underwhelming watch, but I liked the shipwreck setting, and there are some bright spots. The film is worth a look by Ava fans at the very least, and while it’s undeniably silly, it’s fun in its own way.

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