Rescue from GIlligan’s Island

Rescue from Gilligan's Island

Comedy, Adventure | 95 mins | Released: 1978
Director: Leslie H Martinson
Starring: Bob Denver, Allan Hale Jr, Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, Judith Baldwin, Russell Johnson, Dawn Wells
Our Rating: 5

Gilligan has a nightmare about the island melting. The film then notes that far away from Gilligan’s Island in an unidentified country (one may assume the U.S.S.R.), a military unit is monitoring a satellite that is experiencing technical problems. The scientists controlling the satellite activate a self-destruct mechanism to prevent the satellite from crashing to Earth, as it contains a disc that holds some very important, top-secret information. The metal disc from the satellite is not destroyed, instead making it through the Earth’s atmosphere and landing at the lagoon, eventually being found by Gilligan.

The Professor realizes that a unique alloy in the disc can be used to make a barometer. While using the new barometer, the Professor deduces that they are going to be hit by a tsunami of such magnitude that it will destroy the island (he can’t back this up, as even their radio has finally broken down due to age). To survive the killer wave, the Professor has the castaways maneuver three huts together and secure them to one another (a trick he learned from one of the tribes that they had encountered while on the island- one canoe alone would not withstand the rough waters, but tying three together would).

When the castaways awaken the next morning, they realize that the Professor’s prediction has come true; they have been swept off the island and their huts have become a makeshift raft. They use clothes donated by the Howells to make a sail. Gilligan makes a fire on the deck to cook a fish, and leaves the fire unattended. Unfortunately for Gilligan, the fire begins to spread out of control, but the other castaways promptly extinguish it. After being angry at Gilligan, the castaways are then grateful when the United States Coast Guard spots the smoke and rescues them. Ironically, the helicopter pilot remarks that without Gilligan’s fire they probably would not have been spotted.

After the raft is towed to Hawaii, the castaways’ names are announced to the anxious crowds. Most of the cast’s full names are recited, but a bullhorn obscures part of the first mate’s name, and all that is heard is “Gilligan”. The castaways are at first confused by modern life. They are informed that the President is Jimmy Carter, and that they had missed the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. After a ton of hoopla and media hype, the group agrees to meet again at Christmas aboard the S.S. Minnow II.

After viewing an interview of the castaways on TV, spies from the unknown country are made aware that Gilligan is in possession of the recording disc from their satellite and are sent to recover it.

An insurance company informs the Skipper and Gilligan that they will not get a settlement payment for the first Minnow unless their former passengers sign a statement testifying that the Skipper was not responsible for the shipwreck (recalling an earlier episode where the Skipper was tried in absentia and acquitted of responsibility).

First they visit Ginger. She is making a movie, and is upset at the changes in Hollywood in the last 15 years. She is told that sex and swearing are what makes a movie successful, and that nothing else matters. The director overhears Gilligan talking about some recent films he had seen which were hits, such as Jaws and Star Wars, neither of which had profanity nor bawdiness, and quickly decides that acting is what really matters. Ginger signs the insurance statement and the Skipper and Gilligan go off to find the Professor.

The Professor is trying to get back into research and is busying himself in his lab conducting experiments. Four cheerleaders enter the lab and inform him that he has been selected as the Homecoming King. He attempts to rebuff them, but they insist that he must accept. He finally agrees, just to get them to leave his lab and allow him to get back to his experiments. He also has an awkward encounter with a woman from the Anthropology Department. Finally, after Gilligan has been misdirected by the Professor and knocks over a fake experiment, the Professor introduces them to his latest inventions: the frisbee and the skateboard. As Gilligan is amusing himself on the skateboard, the Dean of the college enters the lab and is immediately run into by Gilligan. After the Skipper and Gilligan leave, the Dean tries to get the Professor to stop his research and teaching to concentrate on fund-raising. Later, the former castaways agree that things were much simpler on the island and the Professor signs the insurance statement.

Gilligan and the Skipper then go to meet the Howells. They are having dinner with old friends and are delighted when the Skipper and Gilligan arrive. The Howells introduce them to their acquaintances before going into the library to discuss matters. However, over the intercom they overhear their rich “friends” making insults toward Gilligan and the Skipper. The Howells angrily throw their supposed friends out of their house and off their property. The Howells then sign the insurance statement.

The Skipper and Gilligan go see Mary Ann. After 15 years, she is set to marry her fianceé, Herbert. However, she is sad for some reason, and her acquaintance Cindy tries to console her. Mary Ann explains that she and Herbert have both changed over the course of 15 years and she no longer loves him. Cindy says she should call off the wedding but Mary Ann insists she must do the right thing and marry Herbert. Again unannounced, the Skipper and Gilligan show up looking for a signature for the insurance statement. Mary Ann is thrilled to see them but they notice she is unhappy. She brushes it off and asks them to stay for the wedding. (She had asked no one from the island, as she had wanted to surprise them with her new husband during the Christmas reunion). Cindy confides her true feelings regarding Herbert, and his for her, to Gilligan and the Skipper. They decide that they must “save” Mary Ann from making a huge mistake so they grab a tractor pulling an old wagon laden with watermelons and proceed to “scoop” Mary Ann out of the arms of Herbert. Subsequently the two spies (who just happen to be in attendance no matter where Gilligan goes) and all the male guests begin running after what is clearly the slowest tractor ever and almost catch the threesome until Gilligan ingeniously hurls a single watermelon into the group and they tumble over like a perfect strike! Meanwhile, as Mary Ann contemplates how to break the news to Herbert without breaking his heart, in the background you can hear the traditional wedding music that is played as the married couple have their first kiss and we see Herbert and Cindy are that kissing couple. Suffice it to say, Mary Ann is out of her predicament and the Skipper gets his insurance statement signed.

Eventually the insurance company pays for the Minnow, and the castaways and crew are ready for a cruise on the Minnow II. The spies make one last attempt to get the disc, but are thwarted at the last minute by the FBI. Finally, the cruise gets under way.

However, just as 15 years before, the Minnow II is caught in a storm, because while cleaning the compass, Gilligan had rendered it useless by removing the magnet that makes the compass work thereby causing the Skipper to sail for hours in the wrong direction. They are so off-course after the storm they have no idea where they are. When the storm finally subsides, the group is seen pulling themselves from the water onto a beach. After getting some not-so-happy looks from the rest of the gang, Gilligan hightails it into the jungle. Gilligan returns to say he knows where they are by showing the rest of the group a piece of wood from the original Minnow (the name plate of the original ship, which is incorrectly marked “Minnow I”.) The group react in shock when they realize they landed right back on the same island, and when Gilligan says “we’re home,” the Skipper chases him into the lagoon.

Movie Notes:

Rescue from Gilligan’s Island is a 1978 two-part television movie that continues the adventures of the shipwrecked castaways from the 1964–1967 TV series Gilligan’s Island starring Bob Denver and Alan Hale, Jr. The film first aired on NBC October 14 and October 21, 1978. In depicting the rescue, at last, of the castaways, the film forms a cathartic response to many of the episodes of the series in which “they almost get off the island”. The film was directed by Leslie Martinson.

Tina Louise declined to appear in the movie, claiming that she was not going to reprise the role that she felt had devastated her career. Reportedly she asked for a prohibitively large sum of money. Judith Baldwin, a substantially younger actress who resembled Louise, was cast in her place. The following year, Baldwin would go on to play Ginger again in The Castaways on Gilligan’s Island. Cassandra Peterson also auditioned for the part of ‘Ginger,’ shortly before KHJ-TV offered her the horror-host position as ‘Elvira Mistress of the Dark‘.

The scene in which the rescued castaways are towed into harbor to a hero’s welcome was filmed in Los Angeles’ Marina Del Ray. According to Sherwood Schwartz, the extras hired to play the crowd were soon joined by countless onlookers, all of them ecstatic to see the familiar characters finally rescued. The crowd’s enthusiasm was so overwhelming that the cast members were moved to tears.

The opening sequence of this movie is the same one used to open the episodes of the original series. However, the concluding sequence showing the castaways sitting together on the beach was shot at the time the movie was made, because another actress was playing Ginger Grant. The movie itself was shot with a different camera than the old opening sequence, and the result is actually quite jarring, especially in the opening sequence where new head shots replace the old ones due to the replacement actress being in the movie.

This and the following TV movies were considered pilots for a possible new Gilligan TV series.

All of the products that the Professor tried to invent after being rescued were available on the market before the castaways were first marooned, so he should have known about them. Frisbee was introduced 1950, electric toothbrush in 1960, pantyhose and skateboards in 1959. In fact, Gilligan mentioned wanting a skateboard in an episode of the original show.

After the castaways become stranded once again on the island, Gilligan finds a piece of wreckage from their original boat. Although the wreckage says Minnow I, the ship they originally shipwrecked on the island in was called the S.S. Minnow.

See star Alan Hale in the romantic musical comedy, The Inspector General!

Costar Bob Denver also stars in the western comedy, The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West!

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