Before the blockbuster SPLASH (1984), there was MIRANDA (1948), an enchanting mermaid played by legendary British actress Glynis Johns.
MIRANDA is about a mermaid who saves the life of Dr. Paul Martin (Griffith Jones), who is on a fishing holiday trip, and intends to keep the young doctor a prisoner. Apparently there is a shortage of mermen. She then offers to release him if he will take her to see London, which leads to a number of humorous and romantic entanglements. While in London, Miranda’s alluring nature has an effect on the men she meets; including a chauffeur name Charles (David Tomlinson) and an artist named Nigel (John McCallum). Charles and Nigel are so blind with affection for Miranda (overlooking her raw fish and salt water diet), that they are ready to break up with their girlfriends. Meanwhile, Paul’s wife Clare (Googie Withers) starts to figure out Miranda’s secret, especially when she realizes fish are disappearing from the fish bowl.
Miranda’s tail looks remarkably believable in the film, (receiving a screen credit as ‘Tail by Dunlop’), and Johns uses it as if she were a real mermaid. She plays Miranda with just the perfect combination of humor and innocence. It is entertaining for viewers to watch the chemistry between David Tomlinson and Glynis Johns, long before they appeared as “Mr. and Mrs. Banks” in MARY POPPINS (1964).
It appears that 1948 was “the year for mermaids”. While Britain was releasing MIRANDA, across the ocean (pun intended), Ann Blyth played a mermaid named Lenore, in Universal’s MR. PEABODY AND THE MERMAID (1948).
Even with another mermaid movie that year, MIRANDA was a unique film, due to the surprise ending which possibly raised more questions than answers. On a humorous note, the credits read “FIN” when Miranda’s tail disappears into the waves. But don’t be sad, Glynis reprises her role in the sequel, MAD ABOUT MEN (1954).
Pay attention to the movie and you will see some distinct similarities between MIRANDA and SPLASH. You have to wonder how many girls were given the name “Miranda” after the film released, since a slew of girls were named “Madison” after SPLASH came out.
MIRANDA surfaces on DVD, July 5th.