DirectorJ. A. Lipman ScreenplayHarry Lauder CountryAustralia
Release date6 March 1937 Based onstory by Captain Bruce Bairnsfather CastBrian Abbot (Morris Carthew), Jean Laidley (Audrey Challoner), W. Lane-Bayliff (Captain Druce), William Carroll (Chief Officer Vowels), George Doran (Reverend Abel) Similar moviesThe Squatters Daughter (1933), Carry on - Sergeant! (1928), Uncivilised (1936)
Mystery Island is a 1937 Australian film shot almost entirely on location near Lord Howe Island. It is best remembered for the mysterious disappearance of two of its cast after filming completed.
Two women and eight men are shipwrecked on a South Pacific island. There is a murderer amongst them. Only the murderer and the ship's captain knows his identity but the captain has lost his memory.
Brian Abbot as Morris Carthew
Jean Laidley as Audrey Challoner
W. Lane-Bayliff as Captain Druce
William Carroll as Chief Officer Vowels
George Doran as Reverend Abel
Edward Druitt as Seabright
Desmond Hay (Leslie Hay-Simpson) as Packer
Mollie Kerwin as Miss Fortescue
Moncrieff Macallum as Green
Douglas Mackinnon as Cook
The movie was mostly funded by Jack Bruce, who was the managing director of Commonwealth Film Laboratories.
It was shot almost entirely on one of the Admiralty Inlets near Lord Howe Island. A production unit of 20 sailed from Sydney in September 1936, taking ₤10,000 worth of equipment. Shooting went for a month and was marked by a number of difficulties, including constant rain, poor sound, the loss of 2,000 feet of exposed film which had to be reshot.
The female lead, Jean Laidley (real name Jean Mort), had experience in amateur theatre. She was great-granddaughter of Thomas Sutcliffe Mort.
The unit returned to Sydney on 6 October. The shipwreck scene was completed in the studio of Commonwealth FIlm Laboratories in Sydney, being staged with models.
Actors Brian Abbot and Leslie Hay-Simpson elected to stay on the island for a few weeks after filming, intending to sail back to the mainland together in a 16-foot open boat, called the Mystery Star, which Abbot brought over with him.
They left for Sydney on 6 October 1936 expecting to take 10–14 days. By 14 October a search had been launched. They were never heard of again.
The film was released as a supporting feature. Reviews praised the scenery but were less fulsome about its dramatic qualities.
Brian Abbot's widow later sued the producers and their insurers and the case settled out of court.