Appointment with Venus (film)

Appointment with Venus

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ralph Thomas
Produced by Betty Box
Peter Rogers
Written by Nicholas Phipps
Based on story and adaptation by Jerrard Tickell
Starring David Niven
Glynis Johns
George Coulouris
Barry Jones
Kenneth More
Music by Benjamin Frankel
Cinematography Ernest Steward
Edited by Gerald Thomas
British Film Makers Ltd
Distributed by General Film Distributors (UK)
Universal International (USA)
Release dates
8 October 1951 (UK)
1952 (USA)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office £144,000[1]

Appointment with Venus is a 1951 film adaptation of the Jerrard Tickell novel of the same name. It was directed by Ralph Thomas, produced by Betty E. Box and its screenplay was written by the novelist Nicholas Phipps. The film was based on the evacuation of Alderney cattle from the Channel Island during World War II.[2]

In the United States the film was re-titled Island Rescue.


In 1940, after the fall of France, the fictitious Channel Island of Armorel is occupied by a small garrison of German troops under the benign command of Hauptmann Weiss (George Coulouris). He finds that the hereditary ruler, the Suzerain, is away in the British army, leaving the Provost in charge.

Back in London, the Ministry of Agriculture realise that during the evacuation of the island, Venus, a prize pedigree cow, has been left behind. They petition the War Office to do something urgently due to the value of the cow's bloodline, and Major Morland (David Niven), is assigned the task of rescuing Venus. When he realises that the Suzerain's sister, Nicola Fallaize (Glynis Johns) is in Wales, serving as an Auxiliary Territorial Service army cook, she is quickly posted to the War Office and the two, with a radio operator sergeant and a Channel Islander naval officer who knows the local waters, are landed on the island.

They contact the Provost and discover that the Hauptmann, a cattle breeder in civilian life, is about to have the cow shipped to Germany. In a race against the Germans discovering their presence, they spirit the cow onto a beach and via a special craft, onto a Royal Navy Motor Torpedo Boat which takes them to Britain, though they are pursued by German E-boat.[3]



The story is based on a real incident told to Tickell after the war by an army officer who was involved in a similar event.

The film follows the original novel closely with the exception of the fate of Lionel.

The fictitious island of Armorel may be based on Sark, one of the locations where the film was shot. Sark, inhabited by 500 people, had a feudal ruler, the Seigneur until 2008, as depicted in the play The Dame of Sark.[4] Like all the other Channel Islands, it was occupied by German troops 1940–1945. British commandos made two unsuccessful raids in 1942–43.


The film was based on a novel. Much of the film was shot on the island of Sark.[5] The island did not allow motorised traffic. The filmmakers were allowed one Land Rover and trailer to transport their equipment. Otherwise they had to walk on foot or use boats and horse drawn carriages.[6] The rushes were transported to the nearby island of Guernsey where they were seen weekly.[7]

Director Ralph Thomas later said they used twelve plain coloured cows to play the lead cow, painting them with a patch on the side. He said this "was a sod because we shot mainly on location, and every time it rained, which it did regularly, the colours would run, and you would think the cow was milking itself because drops of paint were falling on the grass. It was a difficult picture but it was fun."[8]

See also


  1. BFI Collections: Michael Balcon Papers H3 reprinted in British Cinema of the 1950s: The Decline of Deference By Sue Harper, Vincent Porter p 41
  2. Archived 29 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. "APPOINTMENT WITH VENUS.". The Australian Women's Weekly (1933 - 1982). 1933 - 1982: National Library of Australia. 25 June 1952. p. 29. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
  4. The Dame of Sark a play by William Douglas Home.
  5. "Round the studios". The Mail (Adelaide). 41, (2,061). South Australia. 1 December 1951. p. 9 (SUNDAY MAGAZINE). Retrieved 22 July 2016 via National Library of Australia.
  6. Box p 59
  7. Box p 61
  8. McFarlane, Brian (1997). An Autobiography of British Cinema By the Actors and Filmmakers Who Made It. Methuen. p. 558.

External links

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