A film enjoyed by Vernon Corea was ‘Elephant Walk,’ it was actually filmed in Ceylon in 1954. Elizabeth Taylor was very popular in Ceylon, she starred in ‘Elephant Walk’ alongside Peter Finch and Dana Andrews. The film was directed by William Dieterle.Elephant Walk was filmed in the year of Vernon’s marriage to Monica – Vernon was teaching at Uva College, Badulla at the time where he met Monica who was also a teacher. The newspapers in Colombo were full of the stars arriving in Ceylon.
Vivian Leigh took on the lead role but had to withdraw from filming due to her bi-polar illness. Apparently Laurence Olivier was meant to have starred alongside her but he had to cancel because of a film clash.
There are plenty of long shots featuring Vivian Leigh, here is one of her flying into Colombo Airport in Ratmalana on a Air Ceylon DC3 aircraft.
Vivian Leigh, Sir Laurence Olivier and Peter Finch stayed at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo during the early stages of filming for the film ‘Elephant Walk.’ A few years later Vernon Corea, the legendary Radio Ceylon broadcaster compered New Year’s Eve dances at the Galle Face Hotel and introduced new acts at the hotel’s night club, The Coconut Grove including Mignonne Fernando and The Jetliners, Ceylon’s first supergroup.
Elephant Walk was a snapshot of Colonial Ceylon.
It is based upon the novel Elephant Walk by “Robert Standish”, the pseudonym of the English novelist Digby George Gerahty (1898-1981).
It was originally intended to star the husband and wife team of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh (with Olivier in the Finch role). However Olivier was already committed to the project The Beggar’s Opera (1953). Leigh was enthusiastic about the role and continued in her husband’s absence, but she was forced to withdraw from production shortly after filming began in Colombo, Ceylon, as a result of bipolar disorder. According to Leonard Maltin‘s annual Movie Guide book, Leigh can be seen in some long shots that were not re-filmed after Elizabeth Taylor replaced her.
Colonial tea planter John Wiley, visiting England at the end of World War II, wins and weds lovely English rose Ruth and takes her home to Elephant Walk, Ceylon, where the local elephants have a grudge against the plantation because it blocks their migrating path. Ruth’s delight with the tropical wealth and luxury of her new home is tempered by isolation as the only white woman in the district; by her husband’s occasional imperious arrogance; by a mutual physical attraction with plantation manager Dick Carver; and by the hovering, ominous menace of the hostile elephants. The elephants end up destroying the plantation in a stampede along with a fire.
|Directed by||William Dieterle|
|Produced by||Irving Asher|
|Written by||John Lee Mahin
from the novel by
|Music by||Franz Waxman|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Release date(s)||April 21, 1954|
|Running time||103 minutes|