A friend writes:
Hey Steve: Ever see something called The Little Hut? Stewart Granger, Ava Gardner, and David Niven as castaways? It was on TCM recently. So bad it's good....shot on a soundstage at Cinecitta, but supposed to be on a desert island. Granger dances around in short-shorts and invents coconut telephones a la Gilligan; the incredibly brittle dialogue is by Nancy Mitford! Gardner was doing the guy who plays the chef, who disguises himself as a wild native named Bola Bola! And the movie is about wife swapping! In 1957! And the costumes, including coconut skirts, are by Dior!
I must confess I've never heard of this one, and at first I thought my friend was kidding, but a look at the TCM website confirms that it's all true. Including the part about Ava doing the chef, which I must say totally piqued my interest.
Sir Philip Ashlow (Granger), his neglected wife, Lady Ashlow (Gardner) and his best friend Henry Brittingham-Brett (Niven) are shipwrecked on a desert island. This potential ménage à trois where the two men compete for the lady's attention is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of a fourth inhabitant of the island, a chef (Walter Chiari).
(I also liked this bit from the TCM site: "Granger fussed over the possibility of being upstaged by Niven’s mustache, which he claimed Niven played like a scene-stealing fiddle.")
Sadly, TCM does not seem to have another airing of this obviously timeless classic scheduled for any time soon. Plus: There's nothing on YouTube, alas, and no home video version seems to be available either. Hey MGM -- if you're not too busy with that twentieth anniversary deluxe edition of the Michael J. Fox piece of crap Bright Lights, Big City, you think you might see your way to putting this on DVD?