25th April 1953

Guernsey-set film The Sea Devils hits cinemas

Name a Guernsey film, and The Sea Devils probably isn’t the first one that comes to mind.

Yet the film, which starred Rock Hudson, Yvonne de Carlo and Maxwell Reed, does recycle some of the names from Victor Hugo’s Guernsey-set book, Toilers of the Sea. It opened in UK cinemas on 25 April 1953 (and in the US almost a month later, on 23 May).

The Sea Devils plot

Gilliatt is a fisherman, who helps Drouchette (a name remarkably similar to Deruchette in Hugo’s book) escape to France. England and France are at war at the time.

It looks like she might be a French agent for a while, but it turns out she’s actually working for Britain. She is captured, and Gilliatt rescues her. They kiss, but it’s not clear whether they have a happily-ever-after following their escape.

The plot thus bears little similarity to Hugo’s invention, unless Deruchette could, despite her name, actually be a stand-in for the Durande. This was a ship, whose engine Gilliatt saved in Toilers of the Sea. The film’s title – Sea Devils – is also a play on Devil Boat, which is the name given to the boat in Hugo’s book by the local fishermen.

A Channel Islands film

The film made no effort to hide the fact it was set in the Channel Islands – indeed, it made a virtue of it. The trailer was overlaid with the promise, “Over the horizon of the historic Channel Islands, into NEW and exciting worlds of spectacle and thrill come adventure and romance presented in vivid colour by Technicolor”.

The film, which runs for 91 minutes, was directed by Raoul Walsh for Coronado Productions, an independent British film company. It was distributed by RKO Radio Pictures.

The Sea Devils was also the name of a storyline in the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who, although this was unrelated to Hugo’s book or the Rock Hudson film.


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Other events that occured in April

Guernsey’s first female murderer goes on trial 1st
A French fisherman is arrested and escorted to St Peter Port 2nd
Guernsey’s new population law comes into force 3rd
Guernsey’s oldest resident dies, aged 110 4th
An occupation-era minefield is discovered at L’Ancresse 5th
Birth of Stone de Croze, the original Guernseyman 6th
The first ever Guernsey stamp is issued 7th
Antiquarian William Collings Lukis was born 8th
Guernsey hosts its first Parkrun at Pembroke 9th
Alderney residents lined the coast to watch Titanic pass 10th
Norfolk pupils spend a week in Guernsey 11th
A plane hit a car while landing at Guernsey Airport 12th
Battery Mirus was test fired for the first time 13th
Royal Guernsey Light Infantry fights at Ypres 14th
Guernsey Mormon Sampson Avard dies in Illinois 15th
Lieutenant Governor, Lord Ruthven, died in Bath 16th
Death of the Vicar General of the Channel Islands 17th
TV’s Jeeves is rushed to hospital on Guernsey 18th
Guernsey Airport’s new terminal opened for business 19th
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie film opened 20th
Death of Guernsey-born footballer Len Duquemin
Three Jewish women are deported from Guernsey 21st
Guernsey bigamist got married for the second time 22nd
Aurigny pilot Ray Bowyer spots a UFO near Alderney 23rd
The States of Guernsey registers the gov.gg domain 24th
Guernsey-set film The Sea Devils hits cinemas 25th
Hydrofoil Condor 1 completed its final sea trials 26th
The first Muratti football match takes place 27th
Guernsey passengers stage a ferry sit-in 28th
Guernsey abolishes the death penalty for murder 29th
Finishing touches put to new hospital 30th
Murder suspects steal visitor’s boat from St Peter Port