Elizabeth Taylor Classic, Elephant Walk (1954) – A Love Triangle set in a Ceylon

Ruth a beautiful young book shop clerk from England rushes into a spontaneous love marriage, thrilled by the prospect of a life in wild Ceylon with plantation owner John. After leaving England for John’s exotic servant filled mansion in Ceylon, Ruth soon comes to know John as someone burdened by the memory of a wicked father and is ill-treated by the mansions head servant Appuhamy. Ruth finds solace in John’s American friend Dick who is the overseer of the plantation..and the story unfolds in a thrilling background.

iserendip Commentary

A rare film quite difficult to find, based on a novel by Robert Standish, a pseudonym of English novelist Digby George Gerahty. Produced by Paramount Pictures shot partly in Sri Lanka. Though it does not seem to have performed all that well in the box office regardless of the star-studded cast, its soapy romance, thrilling setting and intrigue can still keep an audience captivated.

This post is about enjoying the synopsis of a story that is romantic, thrilling and intriguing and will not try to deconstruct its inaccuracies and creative liberties taken in the illustrations of British Ceylon and colonial plantation life 😊.

Illustrated Movie Synopsis.

Ruth is a book shop clerk in Shillingworth-on-Thames. She meets Colonial tea planter John Wiley, visiting England at the end of World War II. Ruth caught up in the excitement of it all marries John Wiley, despite having known him for only two weeks. Leaving England for Ceylon, she arrives in Elephant Walk, John’s plantation bungalow and is thrilled to discover that it is an exotic mansion filled with servants.

On the way to the mansion, they are stopped a bull elephant and John’s violent hatred of it is made very clear as a very angry John frightens it away with a few gunshots.

Upon arriving, Ruth learns a few troubling facts. John’s father Tom deliberately built the mansion across the path long taken by elephants on their way to the river and constructed a wall to keep them at bay. She is also startled that Tom is buried in a lavish marble grave behind the house, while John’s mother is buried in England, she was never happy at Elephant Walk and had hated Ceylon.

Soon after John’s English planter friends and American overseer, Dick Carver, drop by. They meet John’s new bride and welcomes Ruth. She seems to be the only white woman in the area. Later the same night the men proceed to get drunk. Dick befriends Ruth.

In the middle of the night Ruth is awoken by the sounds of a drunken polo match on bicycles across the mansion’s spacious floors by John and his friends. Ruth calls John frightened by the noise, but he coldly dismisses her.

Later John follows and apologizes to an upset Ruth for hurting her. The next day Ruth acquaints herself with Appuhamy, John’s principal servant, who’s real master continues to be John’s late father. She notices Appuhamy speaking to Tom’s grave, expressing his dislike of the new mistress. She tours the enormous kitchens and gets dismissed by Appuhamy when she offers to plan the menu. Tom’s study piques Ruth’s curiosity but Appuhamy refuses to give Ruth the key to it.

Dick is planning to leave for Paris and that night stops by to say his goodbyes. He encourages Ruth to contact him for anything. Sometime later, John fractures his leg on his drunken bicycle polo shenanigans. John’s doctor complains that his quarrelsome attitudes is delaying his recovery and Ruth writes to Dick for help, and he quickly returns.

John remains quarrelsome, he yells at Ruth for changing his menu without permission. Ruth realizes the whole mansion including her own husband is still controlled by the deceased Tom. Ruth is forced to confide in Dick. While out riding with him, Dick kisses Ruth, but she pulls away, because she still loves John. Back at the plantation, John apologizes to Ruth and plans a special celebration.

Adding to Ruth’s disappointment and frustration, the celebration turns out to be a birthday party for Tom. Ruth explodes and orders John’s friends out of the house.

John quarrels with Ruth for this, when she lets out her frustrations saying she hates Tom, John slaps her. Stunned, Ruth runs to Dick begging him to take her away. However, one of John’s servants collapses with cholera and the plantation is placed under quarantine.

John is aware of Ruth’s plans to leave him, but trapped at Elephant Walk, they toil together to curb the epidemic. John insists on burying the dead himself and Ruth is impressed by his selfless dedication. Ruth too during makes herself indispensable and Appuhamy is heard confessing to Tom that he was wrong about the new mistress, and he hopes that she will stay.

But Ruth has made John realise that, at Elephant Walk, he will continue to be dominated by his dead father, that they must leave. Later, after the quarantine is lifted, Ruth tells Dick that she cannot leave John, despite his protest that John has not changed.

As a final precaution to rid of the epidemic, the workers’ huts are set ablaze, but it agitates the elephants who have already been frustrated by the delayed monsoon. They stampede and with workers unavailable to hold them back, the elephants storm the mansion. Appuhamy, who has now grown fond of Ruth rushes to alert her and is killed by an angry elephant. Crashing through the house, the elephants erupt a fire.

The portrait of old Tom is seen burning, with the end of his cruel reign. John and Ruth manage to escape and the house collapses. Dick sees them together in the hills and realises that Ruth is lost to him.

It begins to rain, John and Ruth look down upon Elephant Walk burning and crumbling. John says to Ruth, “let them have their Elephant Walk. Ruth, we’ll build a new place – a home – somewhere else!”

Some Interesting Trivia

Check out the original movie trailer.

Check out the original movie posters.

Images Courtesy::

Images courtesy Paramount Pictures Official Trailer and IMDb Website [https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046951/?ref_=ttpl_pl_tt]

References:

IMDb Website [https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0046951/?ref_=ttpl_pl_tt]

Ultimate Rankings Website [https://www.ultimatemovierankings.com/top-grossing-movies-of-1954/ ]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: