King of the Coral Sea

  • aka King of Arafura (working title)

(Note: this listing contains spoilers).

Ted King (Chips Rafferty) is a pearler in the Torres Straits, and when he finds a body floating in the sea, it leads him to discover a racket involving illegal immigration. 

King is joined in the hunt by his sidekick Jack (Rod Taylor), and by Peter Merriman (Charles Tingwell), playboy owner of the pearling company, who has an eye for King's daughter, Rusty King (Ilma Adey).

King discovers one of his own men, half caste sailor Yusep (Lloyd Berrell) is involved in the racket, while there's more to the town soak Grundy (Reg Lye) than meets the eye.

The gangsters kidnap Rusty and hold her as a hostage, but King and Merriman use aqualung gear and spearguns to surprise the gang in their island hide-out.

Rusty is rescued and re-united with Merriman, the man she loves, and all ends happily ...

(For a more detailed synopsis, see the bottom of this site's 'about the movie' section).

 

Writers:
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Editors:

Production Details

Production company: Southern International

Budget: c. A£25,000 (some sources list a budget of £23,862, derived from Lee Robinson's papers at the NFSA. This figure is a tad suspicious if only because it is so remarkably precise).

Locations: Thursday Island, then underwater shooting at Green Island, off the north Queensland coast

Filmed: the shoot was completed by October 26th 1953. The shoot began on Thursday Island on June 20th, with over six weeks spent on Thursday Island, followed by a further two months on Green Island, where filming was interrupted by bad weather

Australian distributor: B.E.F.

Australian release:  17th July, 1954 on Thursday Island, simultaneous with a Melbourne premiere, followed by a release 12th August 1954, Majestic Theatre, Melbourne.

According to various reports, including The Age on July 30th 1954, the Thursday Island premiere was held in an open-air theatre, with the locals dressed in sarongs, shirts, cummermunds or even underpants, and cheering wildly whenever a local identity appeared on the silver screen. Proceedings finished with an all-night camp fire feast featuring pigs, turtles and dugongs.

Rating: For General Exhibition

35mm    black and white. The production touted itself as the first film to use the new "panoramic screen" format.

Running time: 85 mins (Oxford Australian Film)

VHS time: 1'20"50 (the VHS copy in circulation amongst collectors is missing a fight scene)

NFSA DVD running time: 1'23"05 (excluding NFSA animated logos, top and tail).

Box office: according to Lee Robinson, the domestic box office for the film reached A£26,000, a reasonable figure relative to budget.

The film also sold to the United States, and did well in the UK - Robinson claimed a return of an estimated A£34,000 - and the revenue was enough to recoup the budget and move the film into a solid net profit.

Opinion

Awards

None known.

Availability

If they wanted to see this film, Ozmovie cultists once had to rely on the DVD copies derived from VHS sources (usually with time code unfortunately placed near head height) circulating amongst collectors. That changed with the release of the film by the NFSA on DVD, available here at time of writing.

The new edition seems to have used a release print for source material, if the cigarette burns are any guide. It’s relatively clean, though there’s a bit of dirt and the odd tram track.

It’s sharp and the contrast is acceptable, and the sound is as good as can be expected for the time. There’s a bit of obvious post synch and some filming takes place on wind blown days. Got to get it in the can!

The result’s much better than any previous copy seen in the wild by this site.

There’s a couple of handy extras - the film’s trailer and an image gallery of publicity material - but perhaps the best is an amateur home movie, which has survived in remarkably good condition.

This show, blessed with titles on a felt board, shows 1950s views of Thursday Island, but best of all shows some filming of King of the Coral Sea, when 'Bud' Tingwell’s Merriman arrives on the wharf and the town’s brass band turns out to welcome him. It isn’t Hollywood, just a dinkum crew trying to make a film in the extremely difficult 1950s.

The only tragedy is that it seems that previous NFSA plans to issue other Lee Robinson shows from the 1950s are on hold.

For a time, Robinson and Chips Rafferty constituted the entirety of the domestic feature film industry in Australia in the 1950s. That pioneering effort deserves honouring, as this digital release does.

The film itself isn't earth shattering. It was designed to sell, as an action adventure show set in an exotic location, suitable for the Saturday matinee circuit, and nothing wrong with that.

It conforms to the rules of the genre, with Ilma Adey as the decorative female star, Charles 'Bud' Tingwell as the playboy who falls for the dinkum goods, and Rod Taylor early in his career playing the sidekick destined never to get the girl. (Boys could leave early to buy their Lifesavers or fizzy sticks during the final underwater kissing scene between Adey and Tingwell).

There's also a requisite amount of action. There’s one big set piece, with Chips Rafferty trapped below and saved by Bud Tingwell's newfangled, British Navy-approved aqualung, and a fight full of Rod Taylor haymakers, and a shoot out at the end to wrap up proceedings (though in one shot it seems clear enough Reg Lye didn’t actually get that spear in his arm).

It all wraps up in a speedy way, designed to suit available double bill theatre slots.

But it’s also Australia’s own, and what a difference it makes to at last see the film in a good digital release, because it's got more to offer than the usual adventure show, at least for an Australian eye.

The documentarian in Robinson insists on taking in aspects of the exotic world of Thursday Island and the pearling business, giving some space to Thursday Island performers, as well as featuring issues such as modernisation, via an iron dome v. aqualung debate. 

There's undewater footage, and the film also looks at people smuggling as a business, a story that has never gone away, though in those days it seems it was Germans being smuggled into Australia - though it’s never explicit about the origins of the runaway European, he’s seen carrying a Luger, a sure cue for any 1950s viewer.

Ilma Adey is only required to be decorative, but does it well, and Lloyd Berrell's sly villain seems to have some Malay background (his woman, Frances Chin Soon’s tortured Catholic Serena, is shown as a Malay).

But it’s Reg Lye who does the best turn as chief villain, starting off feigning being a soak and getting into trouble with a kitten, before gradually revealing a nasty and hard side.

Rod Taylor isn't pushed in the role of Chips' sidekick, but it's good to see him starting out on the road to Hollywood and Hitchock.

All in all, the result's very watchable, and a very good release for Ozmovie cultists, because Robinson knew what he was doing.

The tragedy is that other films that Robinson and Rafferty did are now likely to remain in the vault. Surely it’s part of the NFSA’s remit to get these films out into the world for home viewing ... whether on disc or for the new age of video streaming.

If you think watching a feature film is best done by a few clips, there are three at the ASO site here.

(Note: the illustrative production stills on this site reflect the DVD's quality).

1. Source:

Just as Albert Namatjira turned up in Lee Robinson's previous film The Phantom Stockman because Robinson had made a documentary about him, so Robinson had previously made a documentary about the pearling industry, The Pearlers, in 1949 for the Department of the Interior.

He used the experience to whip up a script with his producing partner Chips Rafferty, making sure to strip any Australian slang out in case it interfered with international sales. The working title of King of the Arafura was dropped in favour of the better known reference to the Coral Sea, though the Arafura is the sea referenced in the film.

Robinson and Rafferty made out that they were breaking new ground with the subject matter, but they were surely aware that Ken Hall had used Thursday Island as the background for his 1937 feature Lovers and Luggers.

2. Production:

After DOP George Heath went from photographing The Phantom Stockman for Rafferty and Robinson to trying to mount his own feature film project, Ross Wood was given the job of DOP.

By this stage Wood was an experienced camera operator and his photography was praised by reviewers at the time. He would continue to work in features while developing a career as a maker of television commercials via his own company.

The underwater photography was done by veteran Noel Monkman, who had directed the feature films Typhoon Treasure and The Power and the Glory, before returning to North Queensland to concentrate on documentaries and underwater filming. Monkman contrived a winged mount to stabilise the 16mm camera for underwater filming and this artefact is now held by the NFSA. If nothing else, this allowed the film to claim the first filming of an extended underwater kiss, as well as provide for some underwater aqualung and old-fashioned diving helmet action.

It was the second film for the new Rafferty-Robinson company Southern International, and much more ambitious than the 1953 The Phantom Stockman, with a bigger budget.

It represented a deliberate strategy by the pair to make "outback films", that were action based, as a way of avoiding competing with overseas studio-based productions, offering audiences exotic locales as well as genre-based stories.

After doing well with King of the Coral Sea, the partners would next head off to New Guinea to do Walk into Paradise (aka Walk into Hell), but the exotic location strategy would then see them head off to to Tahiti to do The Stowaway and The Restless and the Damned with French partners, and the failure of these films would see the end of their company and Robinson turn to television production and Skippy (and the 'roo's feature film spin off, The Intruders).

It was the first film for Joy Cavill, who worked on continuity, and who would stay with Robinson through Skippy, before producing the feature film about Dawn Fraser, Dawn!, for the SAFC.

3. Box-office:

Lee Robinson in interview with Albert Moran made these observations about the production:

Robinson: As soon as Chips got back from London we went straight down to Church Point for two or three weeks and wrote a script. We then went to Thursday Island and did a reconnaissance there. The film was King of the Coral Sea (1954). It was more successful than our first film. I sold the American rights to the film in the Marble Bar to Lee Gordon who wrote a cheque out on the bar. I'll never forget that day. We took about £34,000 out of England. And we made about £26,000 here. So again that tripled its costs in about three months. Then we went into co-production with the French. A French producer came here looking for a partnership. Of course Chips and I were the only people operative here. Nobody else was making anything.

Robinson in his interview with Albert Moran noted the difficulty of moving from documentary to directing actors:

Moran: How did you go directing actors after working with documentary?

Robinson: Good. I was regarded in the business as a good director of action. While there was action going on I was alright. I simply had no background in drama. Also I was relatively young in relation to what other directors were at that time. I was 23 when I did Namatjira. I was 29 when I did Phantom Stockman. That would be unheard of overseas. You simply did not get the opportunity to direct pictures at 29 and it might have been better in the long term if you hadn't either! (like many university resources, the link to the full interview is no longer valid, but part of the interview could be found reproduced in the Australian Screen Editors' newsletter at the bottom of the page here).

4. The premiere and release:

The film scored something of a coup, when news broke that the Queen and the Duke had seen a preview of the film at Brisbane Government House - along with two newsreels of the couple's arrival in Brisbane - and reportedly enjoyed the show. This was turned into part of the advertising copy for the film.

But it was the premiere on Thursday Island that most engaged the mainland media. Almost all the eastern state broadsheets ran a "colour" piece about the audience and their excited response to the show.

As a promotional gimmick, Southern International organised a nation-wide talent quest dubbed "Queen of the Coral Sea", with state finalists assembling in Sydney for a show-down, which eventually resulted in 17 year old Miss Dawn Read, blonde model, scoring a trip to Thursday Island to be crowned with a mother-of-pearl crown carved by native craftsmen.

Both the Thursday Island premiere and the talent competition were organised in association with ANA, Australian National Airlines, and publicity photographs helpfully featured ANA personnel and aircraft.

5. Newcomers:

The film featured Ilma Adey, who at the time was a twenty two year old model and cabaret entertainer from the beach-side suburb of Maroubra in Sydney. 

Adely didn't go on with it as a leading actress, though she did a perfectly presentable job. It's just that there wasn't an industry capable of providing any continuity - the same situation faced by the featured ethnic and Thursday Island players, including Franches Chin Soon, who was a nurse on the island.

But the film also featured Rod Taylor, playing an American, in his first feature film role. The exposure kick-started his career. Handily Taylor plays an American who decides to stay in Australia after the second world war. This was a strategy by Robinson to broaden the film's international appeal, but it also worked for Taylor.

After appearing in Long John Silver, Taylor headed to America for supporting work, and stardom in Hollywood followed in due course. It would be a long time before Taylor returned to work in the domestic feature film industry, in 1976 in The Picture Show Man.

The key cast knew each other from Sydney radio days, with radio drama and advertising still providing the bulk of paying work for actors (unsurprising with only two local feature films produced in the year, together with one US-financed production). 

Chips Rafferty and Charles 'Bud' Tingwell were amongst the few who managed to maintain a continuity of work, with Rafferty managing it bey setting up opportunities for himself.

The Kaurareg tribe of Thursday Island provided a dance sequence for the film.

6. The Lugger:

The HB lugger used in the film was reported as being restored as part of the work of the Cairns Maritime Museum. 

According to one report by a person involved in the restoration, the ship was over 75 years old and made of wood in the traditional style. It started as a 70 foot company mothership for H. Bowden Pearls, but as a result of the second world war, it was moulded  back to 60' and an engine was fitted.

The lugger returned to work after the war (it had been pressed into service during the fighting) but the Thursday Island pearling industry, which had relied on an interest in Mother of Pearl as much as pearls, collapsed as a result of natural disasters, changing fashion, and changing circumstances for the island.

7. Detailed Synopsis:

Thursday Island pearling man Ted King (Chips Rafferty) conducts a race with Yusep (Lloyd Berrell) to see which one of them can get their lugger back to Thursday Island first.

But a crewman in a lookout spots a body in the water. King nudges his boat alongside, and when they get the body out of the water, discover the barracuda have been feasting.

Yusep and the crewmen say they don’t know the feller and King tells them to cover up the body - “never could stand a glassy stare.”

They put up a dead man’s flag and the other boats fall in line astern.

King calls crewman Plato (phonetic, played by Charlie Juda) up to him, and confiscates the dead man’s wallet that Plato had pocketed.

Thursday Island and an attractive woman, whom we will discover is Ted’s daughter, Rosalyn ‘Rusty’ King (Ilma Adey) is wearing a very heavy diving helmet as she moves towards a ship.

Rusty looks up as a crewman tells her the luggers are coming in and they’ve lost a diver. She races down to the Coral Sea Pearling Company Limited...

Sgt Charlie Wright (Charles Peverill) heads out to meet the boat, and wants to know more about the death. Ted cynically jokes about red tape and the way they always want to know something about something. He’ll come to the police station after he gets the shell organised.

A relieved Rusty runs down to the beach with Jack Janiero (Rod Taylor) to greet her arriving father. 

Ted sends her off to whip up a meal and then talks about the funny business of finding a man floating face down in city dress, collar, tie, the whole works. Been in the water about two days.

Jack speculates he took a dive off a steamer, but Ted still thinks it’s a funny business.

Jack hands Ted a telegram announcing the arrival of Merriman. Jack tells him they received a letter a few days ago saying Merriman wants to take over, and an outraged Ted stalks past local soak Grundy (Reg Lye) into the office.

A resigned Ted reads the letter - must have closed all the nightclubs down south - as Jack says he looked up Merriman in Who’s Who and reads out a bio of the playboy with a mouthful of silver spoons, showing Ted an article “Playboy of the South Pacific”. At least, Jack notes, pointing to a photo, it shows a very nice taste in dames.

Leaving behind his leather jacket with the man’s wallet in it, Ted drops in to check on the shells and Yusep, and tells Jack to case the shells while he goes up to the police station.

As Ted steps out of the shed, he’s whacked with a bit of four be two. But all the searching hand ferreting through Ted’s pocket finds is money …

Thursday Islanders find Ted’s unconscious body, and Jack takes him into the office.

As Jack tends Ted’s head, copper Charlie questions him about the assault.

That’s when Ted remembers the wallet and gets Jack to bring it over to him.

Ted hands it to the cop and after Jack discreetly leaves, Charlie explains to Ted that there’s been a bit of smuggling going on.

He shows Ted a top secret file containing word about a vessel that transported five prohibited European nationals.

Charlie explains it’s not a haphazard business, it’s a carefully prepared plan, and somehow or other the body ties up with it. What he’d like is for Ted to come in with them and help them find out what’s going on.

While Jack talks on the phone, a furtive Grundy (pausing to push a kitten aside) slides on his knees into Ted’s office.

He pockets a bottle of hard grog and then peers at the article about Merriman pinned to the wall, now with a piece of paper with “the great white master, oh yeah!!!” pinned to it.

Jack discovers Grundy and asks him what he’s doing there. Grundy says he’s waiting to see Mr King to get a position with the company.

“You always make like you’re praying for rain when you’re waiting to see somebody?” asks a suspicious Jack, threatening Grundy that if he ever sees him in the office again he’ll cut off both his ears and feed them to the kitten. “Now beat it!”

Grundy sidles out backwards and then tumbles over the gate when Ted says ‘boo’ to him, breaking the bottle of whiskey in his pocket.

Ted jokes that you’ve got to watch Grundy: “He’d take the eyes out of your head.”

Ted tries on a new panama hat (‘bonnet’) and decides to give it to a passing Thursday Islander, before they heads off to meet Merriman on the arriving steamer.

Down on the wharf, Grundy tells Yusep that Jack caught him in the office. He had a good look around and the wallet wasn’t there. Yusep is angry, couldn’t have looked so good, and then is all smiles to Jack and Ted when they arrive. When they’re past him, he sourly notes Ted has gone, they’ve got a new boss of the Coral Sea.

As the steamer pulls in, Ted explains his situation with the cops and the illegal immigrants. He wants Jack to to pop down to the Pilots’ Association to find out the course of the last ship to go through the Straits, and get their own maps.

Merriman (Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell) disembarks to the sounds of the local brass band and is greeted by Ted and Jack. Ted explains the band is for Merriman - the family used to stand pretty high in this area.

As Ted and Merriman move off, Jack instructs Yusep to get Merriman’s bags and not to hang around Serena when he’s dropping them off. A surly Yusep tells him that she’s his woman. Jack says again “don’t go hanging around the house!”

Cut to Serena (Frances Chin Soon) tidying up, as Ted and Merriman arrive at the house.

Ted suggests Serena get a drink, so Merriman can learn the local customs, as we cut to Jack heading off to meet up with a couple of pilots to offer them a shot the sixty four dollar question …the name of the last ship they brought through the straits. They offer to dig out a map of the ship’s course.

At his new home, Merriman picks up the phone, but it’s the police for Ted.

Down at the slip yard, Jack’s working out the courses as Ted arrives. Jack points out the course of the Han Sing from Hong Kong passing Weekend Island, but Ted already knows - the body they picked up was a Commonwealth security man. One of the top boys from Canberra. Thought the sharks’d get him. Nice playmates, jokes Jack, as Ted says they’ll take a look at Weekend Island, which the police think might be a dumping ground for this mob.

There’s a thirty fathom shell bed out there he’s been meaning to survey and that’s a good excuse not to draw too much attention to themselves. They’ll leave top of the tide in a couple of days.

Cut to Ted with Merriman on the top of a rise above the town, with Ted proudly showing off the Torres Strait and Wednesday Island and Tuesday Island and Horn Island and Prince of Wales Island and Friday Island and the Arafura sea and the town of Thursday Island and their office...

Cut to Jack supervising the loading of shells on to a truck. He remembers in time to race inside and take down the “great white master” joke as Ted and Merriman arrive. But then his Thursday Island crew observe him tearing out the snap of Merriman and the dame from the magazine story. “Come on, come on, what do you think this is, bush week?” he shouts at them...

Inside Ted shows Merriman his office and chair, but Merriman says Ted’s been running the organisation satisfactorily for 27 years. As long as the Coral Sea company operates and he stays with it, he sits in that chair.

Merriman jokes Jack probably thought the Sydney playboy was going to take over. But he’s here to see if improvements can be made and has a couple of ideas already. He’s taking a more active interest in his company.

Merriman asks if the phone call from the police had anything to do with the company and when Ted says no, Merriman mentions he’d like Serena to be asked to keep her boyfriends out of sight at the house.

Ted says he’ll speak to Serena at the dance, native ceremonial stuff, another welcome for Merriman.

Cut to the dance, and Rosalyn arriving and Jack giving up his seat so she can sit between Ted and Merriman.

“Rusty” she explains, is her preferred name.

The matter of Serena and head diver Yusep arises again, and Rusty explains that Serena’s a Malay, and then she offers to guide Merriman around the island some time. By Jove, yes I might take you up on that, says Merriman with the hint of a leer.

Cut to Merriman at an old gun installation, and as Rusty comes up to him, contriving to fall off the barrel into her arms. She explains (on a very windy day for the shoot) that the guns were brought up before the war, and after mentioning that she goes crayfishing a lot for her dad, we cut to the pair romping in the waters chasing the crays.

After catching one, Rusty points out a turtle, and they go after that.

After catching the turtle, Merriman says he’ll let it go, while nearby a furtive Grundy sidles up next to a termite mound to watch the pair at play.

Back at the shed, Jack’s trying to organise the shell and his feuding Thursday Island crew. Jack shouts for quiet and discovers Mr Merriman has ordered the placing of a black disruptive box amongst other boxes …

Merriman arrives to explain that the box is to go on the boat with other gear … and he and Rusty are going out with them on the boat.

Cut to the lugger H.B. A82 putting out to sea.

Jack and Rusty work on the diving gear, as Merriman notes that the boat is in pretty poor shape. Yes, says Ted, but she’s still the top earner for the season, pulling in 18 ton of shell.

At Weekend Island, talk turns to competition, and Merriman says they need to lower production costs. Ted says they operate cheaper than any other pearling company in Australia.

Merriman suggests simplifying diving methods but Ted says the helmet and corset is still the best method there is. They’ve proved it in the past.

Merriman says he had experience with the British navy and their aqualung gear used with the frogmen during the war.

“That fancy stuff might be alright for navy frogmen, but they’re not in the pearling business Mr Merriman,” sniffs Ted.

They bring the lugger about, and Ted dons the diving helmet.

As Ted heads down past 14 fathoms, Merriman observes three divers, six tenders, nine men to get the shells, too much gear and too many people.

When Ted touches bottom at 26 fathoms, Rusty says her dad shouldn’t go to that depth.

As Ted collects shells, Jack explains he’s got to keep straight up or water will shoot up inside the helmet. Dangerous, clucks Merriman. It’s the safest and fastest method of shell-diving there is, says Jack. Diver gets in trouble he can slip out of the helmet and swim up.

But he admits at 30 fathoms, 180 feet, they don’t usually work that depth and you’ve got to be very, very careful.

Ted jumps off an under-water ledge and goes even deeper. And then his air hose gets caught in the coral …

Jack realises there’s a problem. He’s fouled on the coral, he says, and he will have to go down.

Merriman heads to his special black box and gets out his aqualung gear. He’s going down. In that fancy dress?! snarls Jack.

There’s nothing fancy about an aqualung, retorts Merriman, telling Jack to stay on that line, as he plunges into the water.

Merriman arrives next to Ted and discovers the snag, while up above Jack realises they’re drifting. They lower a sail and drop the anchor as down below Merriman hacks at the coral, and tears his hand. Blood seeps into the water as Ted’s line stays stuck.

Merriman heads to the surface, saying he needs something like a crowbar.

Jack says because of the drifting away they’ve only got forty or fifty feet of air pipe left.

Rusty helps provide a rubber glove to cover up Merriman’s wound and Jack suggests taking down another helmet for a change over.

Ted’s drinking sea water as Merriman arrives with the new helmet.

Merriman shoves his breathing gear into Ted’s helmet, filling it with air.

Jack breathes again as Merriman brings the new helmet to him.

They cut off the old helmet, and Ted gets into the new one, then heads for the surface.

They pause at 12 fathoms, with Ted gesturing two minutes, as Merriman heads up to the surface.

After Merriman reassures Rusty and jokes with Jack about surfacing procedures to avoid the bends, he gets out a cigarette. Rusty says to Jack that she thinks Merriman is wonderful. Jack guesses he’s alright, and offers his cigarette to Rusty so she can help Merriman light his.

With Ted back on the surface, Rusty gives him a cup of tea. Tastes a lot better than the salt water down there, observes Ted.

He also has to admit that the aqualung’s not a bad sort of contraption. “Handy if you couldn’t swim.”

Merriman thinks he’ll never convince him, but Ted admits it might be okay for trochus shells or something like that, and Jack says they have to go to shore to get some water. They forgot to fill the tank before they came out. That’s a bad blue, says Ted, and Jack says he’ll bawl them out when they get back.

Ted says he’ll come with him to stretch his legs a bit, and then Merriman wants to join in, but Ted tells Rusty to stay with Pete (Merriman has finally earned the status of a dinkum first name) and watch the boat.

In the dinghy, Ted confesses to Jack that he almost messed up the real reason for them being here, and Jack says Merriman did a good job for a pink gin boy.

“He’s like a fish down there Jack, like a fish,” says Ted.

On the island, Jack pulls out a pistol and makes sure there’s a bullet in the chamber.

When Jack asks what’s the pitch, Ted says they’ll just wander about like two blokes looking for water. “But watch your step.”

Ted heads to the only pool on the island, while Jack hides behind bushes to cover him.

As Jack walks across the sand, a shadowy figure armed with a pistol hiding behind a tree watches him.

Ted heads amongst the mangroves to fill his drum with water, and spots a tent in the distance.

He walks back to Jack and gestures for them to keep moving.

Back at the dinghy, Ted tells Jack there was somebody in there. He could feel him watching.

Ted explains how he thinks things might develop - there’s this man (meaning Yusep) who keeps coming out here and returning with nothing and then heads off the mainland beds, and Ted speculates that if he were to get into a brawl, he might be able to fire him. Jack gets the idea.

Back in the office, Jack watches through the louvres as Grundy begins rowing a boat out to sea.

Grundy returns to thank Yusep, who’s talking to Serena, for the use of the dinghy.

Yusep boasts that there’s always good fishing for him at Weekend Island. He fishes there and moves on to the mainland beds.

When Jack arrives, Yusep tells Grundy to scram.

Jack wants to know what that pickpocket was doing with the company dinghy, warning Yusep not to be so liberal with the company gear or he’ll find himself in trouble. And he doesn’t want to see him talking to that deadbeat.

Then Jack ups the argument, telling Serena to go up to the house and not to hang around, and Yusep lands a haymaker on him, sending Jack into the sea.

There’s a fight in the ocean, with Yusep trying to strangle and drown Jack.

Ted races to the shoreline to tell the pair to cut it out, and when Jack explains it started over the gear, Ted fires Yusep, saying he’s had enough of his brawls. He can pick up his money at the office.

Later in the office, Ted says it came off, and thanks Jack, the company won’t forget it. Jack jokes if he knew Yusep was going to hit that hard, he would have worn a baseball mask.

Ted explains Yusep’s without a boat now and he can’t leave that European man on the island forever.

Rusty arrives in a new dress, and Ted asks her to head down to Merriman’s and ask him to meet with him at the Grand at four o’clock.

Rusty jokes about Jack’s face and Ted suggests if Jack ever gets married, he should only have boy babies - these girls can be a bit of a problem.

Jack gets on the phone to cop Charlie, while in the street, Grundy is conspiring with Yusep and laying down the law about what Serena must do.

When Rusty walks along the street, Grundy intercepts her and shifts from malevolence to simpering drunk again, asking where a pretty girl might be going in a nice dress like that.

When she explains she’s off to Merriman’s, Grundy says it’s a pity - he just seen him going swimming with that costume and those things what he puts on his feet.

Grundy mentions the fighting, and Rusty realises that it wasn’t an oyster that bit Jack.

At Merriman’s, Serena brings him a drink and notices through the louvres Rusty’s arrival …

She heads down to the gate and tells Rusty that Merriman’s gone to catch crayfish, and left a message to say he’s down at the reef.

A puzzled Merriman looks through the window, noticing them chatting, and Rusty leaving.

Dressed in bikini and with spear, Rusty heads past termite mounds to the water, but Yusep is waiting in an ambush. He drags her into the bushes.

At the Grand, Jack and Ted have a beer, and Ted wonders what’s keeping Merriman.

Ted phones Merriman and asks what’s the hold up.

Merriman doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and they both realise something’s wrong.

Merriman can’t find Serena and then is told she went to church.

At the church, a teary Serena makes the sign of the cross and kneels in prayer. Merriman arrives and she looks at him apologetically …

At the Grand, Ted’s having a beer with a naval man John, when Grundy turns up to do his drunk act.

Ted says not now, he’s too busy and Grundy asks him if he’s too busy to talk about his daughter.

Going into malevolent mode, Grundy says he’s got her and he’s willing to trade his daughter back in exchange for a little time: “You’ve got yourself mixed up in something that ordinary little people should keep right out of. You’ve become a nuisance King so I’ve taken your daughter to keep you quiet for the next 48 hours.”

Jack jumps up, but Ted tells him to take it easy. 

Grundy says he wants him to do precisely nothing. In 48 hours he’ll be gone and if in the meantime Ted’s kept out of his way, he’ll get his daughter back. “But keep on interfering King, and you’ll never see her alive again.”

Grundy leaves, and Ted tells Jack to follow and not leave him out of sight for a minute.

Merriman arrives with news that Serena’s told him something fantastic - Rusty’s been taken.

Ted doesn’t know what to do - if they follow by boat, they’ll be spotted.

But Merriman has the solution - the aqualung gear. He’ll show Ted how they can go with them …

As Yusep takes his motor boat out to sea, three figures, two armed with spear guns, lurk below the hull, riding along in their aqualung gear.

As Yusep and Grundy arrive and clamber into the attached dinghy, the aqualunged figures follow beneath the water.

As the armed villains make land, Ted and Merriman follow, while magically the dinghy begins to travel back out to sea.

The villains come upon Rusty sitting outside a tent, her leg tied to the tent pole. Their smuggled European is ready to move, but Grundy wonders what to do with the girl.

He decides that she’s the least of their worries, and tells their European man that they’re taking him straight through to the mainland, though he wasn’t supposed to be moved for a week.

A noise interrupts them - the boat has started up and is moving off. They race away and Rusty tries to move the tent pole, as Merriman rushes up and cuts her free with a wink and a grin (and a knife).

Merriman rushes Rusty off into the bush, as the villains rush down to the shoreline.

Grundy fires a shot hitting the boat and making Jack duck.

“I won’t miss this time,” he says, taking aim, just as Ted kneels and aims his spear gun at him.

Grundy lets out a cry of pain, as the spear hits him in the arm, and the other villains fire at Ted’s retreating figure.

Merriman and Rusty make their way through the mangroves while Grundy is dragged back to the tent and Yusep runs off into the mangroves in search of Ted.

Yusep raises his gun, but Ted turns in time to send an arrow into his stomach.

Ted shouts out to Grundy he hasn’t got a chance, that’s the police boat he can hear … and Grundy grabs the European’s gun arm and tells him it’s no time for heroics.

The European turns the Luger on himself and fires a shot.

Ted tells Grundy to get on his feet and they head past the slumped figure of the European, down to the shoreline where Jack and three police led by Charlie are racing up across the sand …

Ted shouts out to Charlie there’s no need for any hurry.

He explains that Yusep and the man from Hong Kong are still there but they can take their time finding them. Then, turning to Rusty, he tells her it’s time to get cleaned up and get out of there.

Jack urges them aboard, but Ted strips off his top - he’s a bit interested in this gear. “Ya never know, it might come in handy for pearl shelling.”

A smiling Merriman hands him flippers as Jack says off that he’s finally talked him into it.

Jack rows Merriman and Rusty out to the boat in the dinghy, while back on shore, Ted lowers his face mask with a smile … then heads underwater.

On the boat, an exasperated Jack watches as Merriman boasts about being in the right place at the right time and pashes Rusty at length … until Ted springs up out of the water and drags the pashing pair into the sea. …

The pair keep the kiss going underwater, as Ted heads down to explore the ocean floor and The End title comes up.