Star of India (film)

Star of India (Stella Dell'India' in Italy) is a 1954 British-Italian swashbuckling adventure film in Technicolor from United Artists, produced by Raymond Stross, directed by Arthur Lubin, that stars Cornel Wilde, Jean Wallace, Herbert Lom, and Walter Rilla.[2]

Star of India
Directed byArthur Lubin
Produced byRaymond Stross
Written byHerbert Dalmas
StarringCornel Wilde
Music byNino Rota
CinematographyC.M. Pennington-Richards
Raymond Stross Productions
Distributed byUnited Artists (US)
Eros (UK)
Release date
February 1954 (UK)
April 1956 (US)[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom


In seventeenth century France, Pierre St. Laurent, a young nobleman, returns home from the war to discover his lands and chateau have been confiscated by Narbonne, the governor of the province, and sold to Katrina, a Dutch widow.

Katrina agrees to return Pierre's land if he will help her recover the "Star of India," a sapphire that Narbonne stole from the Dutch. Pierre goes to Narbonne's castle while King Louis XIV is visiting, and befriends the King's misress, Mme. de Montespan. She tells him that Narbonne keeps the Star of India in the hilt of his sword.

Pierre provokes Narbonne into challenging him to a duel, disarms him and steals the jewel. He escapes and returns the jewel to Katrina. To protect Katrina, Pierre allows himself to be captured, then escapes and joins Katrina on a ship bound for Holland.

Narbonne and his men catch up with them on the ship, but Pierre kills Narbonne in a duel.



The film was based on a script by Herbert Dalmas which was optioned by British producer Raymond Stross. Stross arrived in Hollywood in March 1953 seeking directors and a star. Arthur Lubin signed and went to Britain to make the film the following month. The cast was to be Cornel Wilde, Herbert Lom and Robert Morley as Louis XIV.[3] Wilde's then wife Jean Wallace was also cast.[4]

It was to be the first British widescreen film with Eros agreeing to distribute in the east and United Artists in the West.[5]

Stross said "We in England can benefit by using a blend of American and English talent in pictures. The results will be better box office in this country and the mutual understanding developed will also be beneficial. You unquestionably will have much to offer us in techniques and may we modestly assume that we will supply stimuli for you."[6]

(Cornel Wilde later claimed it was he who brought the story to Stross, specifically as a vehicle for himself and Wallace. He also says the script was written by Seton I. Miller even though Miller is not credited.[7])

Eventually Morley dropped out and was replaced by Basil Sydney. Filming was pushed back. Lubin arrived in England in May and filming started in Italy in June 1953. There was filming at Riverside Studios in London then two weeks of location work in Devon. It was completed by late September 1953.[8][9][10]

Director Arthur Lubin called the film "a disaster. Wilde wrote the script, he wanted to act, he wanted to direct. We had a producer who had never made a movie before, and I was stuck in the middle of Italy with a bad script".[11]

20th Century Fox claimed they had rights to the title but later relinquished it at the request of Wilde, who had 55% of the western hemisphere profits.[12]

The film was made in several versions. Release of the film was delayed due to Wilde's unhappiness that the film did not present his wife in the best light. He sued to restrain release of the film until revisions were made. United Artists agreed to finance money to re-dub and re-score the film.[13]


The film was not released in the US until 1956. The New York Times said it had a "silly script" but it had ""countless costumes, swordplay and high speed horseback riding."[14]

Diabolique magazine wrote the film "should have been good – it has Italian locations and Cornel Wilde had appeared in some decent swashbucklers – but is sunk by a silly script."[15]


  1. ^ Of Local Origin New York Times 23 Apr 1956: 23.
  2. ^ STAR OF INDIA Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 21, Iss. 240, (Jan 1, 1954): 43.
  3. ^ Pryor, Thomas M (17 April 1953). "LUBIN WILL DIRECT MOVIE IN ENGLAND: Cornel Wilde Heads Cast in 'Star of India' -- Morley Set to Portray Louis XIV". New York Times. p. 31.
  4. ^ Bergen to Shoot Part of Life Story Abroad Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 1 May 1953: B6.
  5. ^ "1st British Widescreen to star Cornel Wilde". Variety. 24 June 1953. p. 17.
  6. ^ Open Still Unexplored Field Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 3 May 1953: D4.
  7. ^ Round the British Studios Nepean, Edith. Picture Show; London Vol. 61, Iss. 1585, (Aug 15, 1953): 11.
  8. ^ MOVIELAND BRIEFS Los Angeles Times 12 Oct 1953: B9.
  9. ^ Melodious 'Galapagos' Aimed at Graysouz; Mary Anderson in 'I, the Jury' Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 17 Apr 1953: B9.
  10. ^ MOVIELAND BRIEFS Los Angeles Times 9 Sep 1953: B8.
  11. ^ Davis, Roland L. (2005). Just Making Movies: Company Directors on the Studio System. University of Press Mississippi. pp. 184–185.
  12. ^ "'Star of India' title awarded to Ray Stross". Variety. 30 June 1954. p. 5.
  13. ^ "Anglo-Italo Co-Produced 'Star of India' About To Be Salvaged by UA". Variety. 2 February 1955. pp. 3, 22.
  14. ^ Screen: Horror Import: 'Godzilla' a Japanese Film, Is at State 'Star of India' Is Made of Many Things By BOSLEY CROWTHER. New York Times 28 Apr 1956: 11.
  15. ^ Vagg, Stephen (14 September 2019). "The Cinema of Arthur Lubin". Diabolique Magazine.

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