Atoll K
(Utopia)
Series: Laurel & Hardy Distribution: Franco London Films/
Fortezza/Sirius
 Director: Léo Joannon Cinematography: Armand Thirard
Production: Type: Feature Producer: Raymond Eger  Editor: Raymond Isnardon
Released: 25 October 1951 Length: 98 mins Screenplay: John D. Klorer, Frederick Kohner,
René Wheeler, Pierre Tellini
Art director: Roland Quignon

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Stan's rich uncle has died and together with Ollie they travel to London to hear the reading of the will. Representing the state are a legal trio who rip the boys off left, right and centre, taking all the inheritance to pay for solicitor's fees, unpaid taxes and the like. The will does however state that Stan inherits a small island located in the Pacific, accompanied by a luxury yacht. After leaving London the boys head for Marseille and board their boat, but not before having to pay a docking tax (thanks to Stan's helpful reminder to the dockmaster). On board they find a litter of cats who have made the place their home, and a lifeboat which holds four people.
"Well what about me?" asks Stan, insensitively. Guided by a whistle Ollie commands Stan to load the boat with supplies of food they will need for their long journey. On the docks a crate lands with Antoine, a stateless man looking to stowaway on any boat to any country that will accept him. Elsewhere trying his luck is an Italian, Giovanni, who secretly hides on the boys' boat.
Ollie: Stanley, open the skylight so we can get some of that good sea air."
Stan: You know what? You need glasses! It's already open. When you get to the island you better see an optimist."
Antoine has been appointed the chef of the boat and proposes a toast to friendship with Stan and Ollie, but as Stan raises his glass (for some reason way above his head?) the glass disappears from view. After a brief argument between the three over theft of food Ollie orders Stan to get up on deck and stand by. "Stand by what?" asks Stan, comically.
More great dialogue follows;
Stan: "What do you think is wrong with it?"
Ollie: "There's no use guessing, we'll just have to take it apart and find out, in other words use your head"

Stan: "What for?"
Ollie: "Well you could use yours for a bowling ball"
Stan: "You mean one of those with the hole in?"
Ollie: Exactly"
Ollie's attempts to repair the engine are thwarted after Stan places the removed parts on the deck too close to the water. They slip off the side and sink, leaving them with nothing but the sail. As the boys attempt to put the sail up the stoaway Giovanni falls from it revealing himself to them. He wastes no time in giving his orders out either, instructing Ollie to raise the sail but as a consequence Ollie ends up in the sea. When things quiet down the four sit on deck and reflect on their former lives (Giovanni in particular is shown in a flashback sequence which has been cut from some release prints of the film), before a violent storm erupts and it's all hands-on-deck once more to steer the boat safely through it.  Stan is below deck trying to organise the lifeboat but getting himself into all kinds of difficulty. One gag involves him using an oilcan through a porthole in order to calm the sea down, which works momentarily. The storm is concluded when the sea gives way to an atoll which is emerging from underneath them, grounding their boat on dry land.
Cut away to French singer Suzy Delair who is performing a song in a bar and trying hard to get the attention of others, and then later an argument between herself and her sea-captain groom at the registry office before storming off out in a huff.  This considerably slows the down the film and some of these scenes are the difference in running times on various prints that are available (understandably so).
Back at the island the foursome are adapting to their new lives when Stan claims to have spotted a woman standing in their kitchen.  Of course the others think he is barmy but they soon discover it is none other than Cherie, who has vowed to get as far away from her fiancee as possible.  After the formalities they secure her a place to sleep whilst they lads take to sharing the one bed.  Poor Stan thinks he has the comfort all to himself but he is disillusioned when the other three want in, forcing him out.  Ollie's subsequent snoring causes a hurricane effect, blowing the blankets off the bed and Stan off his stool, whilst a bat flies in and causes mayhem with all four guys.
Next morning there is a sense of urgency to get dressed, washed and shaved as soon as possible so that each man can impress their new lady guest. As Antonie, Ollie and Giovanni fight for position Stan comes up with a novel use for sandpaper; shaving his face with it.


Over breakfast Stan discovers a picture on the floor of an officer in uniform and asks to whom does it belong.  All four men are saddened to learn that the man in the picture is the sweetheart of the woman they have all taken a fancy to.  Soon after, he arrives on their island and it is quickly discovered the atoll contains high amounts of uranium.  Ollie sets about in writing a constitution for their newly-named Crusoe Land, whereby there are no laws, no prisons and no taxes.  Word of this gets out and before long the place is swamped by people all looking to take advantage of the rules.  There is a woman who shows the deepest disrespect for the place by lowering the flag which has been raised by the group to represent their new country, to clean the faces of her many children. Actually this scene made me quite angry to watch!
The flock of new arrivals are led by a brute of a man named Alecto, who flagrantly disobeys the rules and challenges Ollie's authority, which ultimately leads to a decision to hang him.  Cherie plays along and asks to go along with the villains, but she manages to sneak off undetected and raise the alarm via radio to her sweetheart and his ship. As the hanging party gather to witness the end of Stan, Ollie and their friends, a thunderstorm erupts and the atoll sinks back beneath the water. The surviving five use the hanging platform as a boat and steer it to the safety of their rescue.  Stan and Ollie do eventually get their island but are fleeced of all their food and belongings due to non-payment of taxes.

Favourite bit
The funniest line of dialogue comes from Stan.  Suzy Delair's character has just arrived on the island and after the formal introductions they go outside the hut where she asks about the shipwreck in the near distance.

Ollie: "I shall never forget the day I found this island.  It was a terrible night, dark as pitch."
Stan: "It was so pitch you couldn't see your hand behind your back."

Facts
This film is known by a number of different titles: Robinson Crusoeland (in the UK); and Utopia (in the USA).
The film first premiered in Monte Carlo, Monaco, on September 10, 1951.
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy had stand-ins for their scenes: Julien Maffre (for Stan) and Victor Decottignies (for Ollie).
The opening shot of the film begins in London and is of the Houses of Parliament. The camera then pans to the right, along Westminster Bridge. This shot was filmed from Lambeth Bridge, south London.
This was the last film in which Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy appeared in together. Many scholars and film historians incorrectly claim this to be film #106, which isn't even close to the actual amount.
There are a couple of brief scenes where we get to see Giovanni's employer back in Italy, which was only available in the Italian print of the film. This version, known as "Atollo K" is available on DVD in Italy.
The actor who plays the Mayor's deputy (Titys) died in March 1951, seven months before the film was released.
The castlist provided on this page is accurately confirmed by Norbert Aping's magnificent book The Final Film Of Laurel And Hardy and differs greatly from the inaccurate listing available on IMDb.com. It is rumoured that Gilbert Moreau, Simone Voisin and Franck Maurice contributed but this is unconfirmed.
There are multiple versions of the film and each have their own unique bits; for instance, in the "Utopia" version the solicitors' plaque at the beginning of the film is in French, whereas the American version of the film the plaque is completely different, in English. The Italian print of the film cuts the frames of film out completely.
During the reading of the will, the money is split up into Italian lira, French francs and English pounds.  The administrative charges which the solicitors take from them include: overhead legal charges, deflation, multisation, currently fluctuations, currency exchange; not to mention income taxes, estate taxes, inheritance taxes, death taxes and living taxes (as well as a small fee for themselves for calculating it all, of course).
The name of the boat is Momus.
The name of Stan's pet lobster is Oscar.
When an officer is talking to Antoine on the boat deck, a woman can be seen peering out from behind a funnel on the right-hand side of the screen.
The significant order of first-to-set-foot on the island is Antoine, Giovanni, Ollie and then Stan.
There is a clock on the wall in the boys' bedroom on the island. The hands are made up of a fork and a spoon.
In the German version Oliver Hardy is billed before Stan Laurel in the credits.
It's fitting that the last line of dialogue ever spoken in a Laurel and Hardy film is Ollie: "Well here's another nice mess you've gotten me in to."
Filming dates
August 7 - October 10, 1950, then January 10 - April 4, 1951.
What the experts say
"Forget that they’re old. Forget that they’re sick. Forget that they’re in an unfamiliar land with unfamiliar people. After years of exile, Stan and Ollie are back. Atoll K presents a mature version of the Stan and Ol­lie we originally met in 1928. Not the broad, white-faced clowns of the later Roach films. Not the stodgy dullards of the Fox/MGM years. Perhaps that’s why I like Atoll K so much: Not because of what the film contains, but what it promises. It proves that the boys never lost their comic touch, or their innate sense of who these two characters were. It shows that Laurel & Hardy could have matured and, to me, makes the ten lost years since they left Roach all the more tragic. This is the Laurel and Hardy that could have been. That should have been."
~ Chris Seguin, March 2017.

Stan Laurel
Stan
Oliver Hardy
Ollie
Suzy Delair
Chérie Lamour
Max Elloy
Antoine
Adriano Rimoldi
Giovanni Copini
Claude May
Miss Pringle (secretary)
André Randall
Phineas Bramwell, British lawyer
Robert Vattier
Yves Bonnefoy, French lawyer
Vittorio Caprioli
Pietro Poltroni
(Italian lawyer)
Lucien Callamand
Harbor official
Olivier Hussenot
Monsieur Bonnet, captain of the Medex
Guglielmo Barnabò
Giovanni's Italian employer
Philippe Richard
Manager of the Cacatoes Club
Luigi Tosi
Lieutenant Jack Frazer
Félix Oudart
Mayor and Registrar of Papeete
Titys
Deputy to the Mayor
Palmyre Levasseur
Wife of the Registrar
Robert Murzeau
Captain Mike Dolan
Suzet Maïs
Mrs. Martha Dolan
Henri Cote
Surveyor discovering the uranium field
Charles Lémontier
Senior official who approves the
sovereignity of the atoll
Maurice Pierrat
Bespectacled French radio announcer
Hans Werner
German radio announcer -
English-language and French versions only
Jean Maxime
Sailor in the Café Crusoe who receives
two bottles of liquor from Stan

  Nicolas Amato
Rub-Out Raymond, hoodlum who
wants to sell the liquor
Michael Dalmatoff
Alecto
Guy Henry
Alecto's henchman in white cowboy shirt
Joé Davray
Alecto's henchman with waistcoat and hat
who reports Ollie fixed the proclamation
Roger Legris
Higgins, radio operator
Hubert Deschamps
Policeman who confiscates Stan's island
and the boys' belongings

   
UNIDENTIFIED
Dinner guest
UNIDENTIFIED
Radio announcer
UNIDENTIFIED
Radio announcer
UNIDENTIFIED
Radio announcer
UNIDENTIFIED
Radio announcer
UNIDENTIFIED
Marseille dock officials
UNIDENTIFIED
Gentleman
UNIDENTIFIED
Ship's officer
UNIDENTIFIED
Café hoodlum
   

OPENING SCENE: THEN & NOW (1951-2017)


LOBBY CARDS
(all courtesy of "The Jitterbugs Tent" - used with permission)






 



In 2007 Norbert Aping released a fascinating book called "The Final Film Of Laurel And Hardy: A Study Of the Chatotic Making And Marketing Of Atoll K".
It is an absolute must for anyone who shares an interest and fondness for the film.




DVD COMPARISONS (SELECTION)
Acknowledgements:
The Final Film Of Laurel And Hardy: A Study Of the Chatotic Making And Marketing Of Atoll K by Norbert Aping (2007 book)
Laurel And Hardy: The Magic Behind The Movies by Randy Skretvedt (2016 book)
Russell Babidge, Trevor Dorman, Tom Schober, Peter Mikkelsen (help and assistance)
Peter Aberle (cleaning image of opening shot)
The Jitterbugs Tent (Sons Of The Desert) - for the 8 coloured UTOPIA lobby cards
Irv Hyatt (2 Italian lobby cards - from Laurel And Hardy: Foreign Lobby Cards & Posters III - used with permission
The photograph of the Houses of Parliament copyright Lord Heath, all rights reserved.

This page was last updated on: 18 April 2017