: : : The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea


Quite possibly better known for a notorious Playboy magazine spread than for its own cinematic merits, The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea is one of the weirder artifacts of the wide-open American cinema of the 1970s. The Japanese setting of Yukio Mishima's novel is transplanted to the English seaside, where an adolescent boy has fallen in with a group of pint-sized fascists (they call each other by numbers, not names). The gang's idea of exploring "the center of reality" is vivisecting a cat, a ritual rendered in dreamlike, repellent detail. Meanwhile, the boy's mother (Sarah Miles) takes up with an ocean-wandering American seaman (Kris Kristofferson), their gauzy nude scenes providing voyeuristic titillation for the peeping son and audience alike (hence Playboy's interest). The combination of Lord of the Flies with the soft-core stuff makes a very awkward match, and the insistent touch of director Lewis John Carlino, who went on to make The Great Santini, does not help. Carlino's montage of shipboard pistons and pumps churning as the sailor arrives in town is a particularly unfortunate foreshadowing of the sexual gymnastics to come. Kristofferson, looking somewhat zonked as he often did in the '70s, is nevertheless effectively cast, and Miles, after Ryan's Daughter and Lady Caroline Lamb, practically had a patent on the sexed-up English (or Irish) rose in movies. Their efforts can't disguise the silliness of the execution. Still, those kids are truly scary. --Robert Horton

DVD Features

  • Color
  • Widescreen


Sarah MilesAnne Osborne
Kris KristoffersonJim Cameron
Jonathan KahnJonathan Osborne
Margo CunninghamMrs. Palmer

  • Genre: Drama Movies
  • Director: Lewis John Carlino
  • Producer: Image
  • Length: 105 min
  • Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
  • Theatrical Release
    North AmericaJan 1, 1976
  • Ratings
    North AmericaR
  • DVD Release
    North AmericaJan 27, 2004
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