‘Gilligan’s Island’: The Castaways Won the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or in One Episode

by Megan Molseed

The motley crew of “Gilligan’s Island” castaways won the most coveted Cannes film festival award. Well, the most coveted award of the time.

In the 1965 Gilligans Island episode “Castaways Pictures Presents,” the “Gilligan’s Island” group develops a film in hopes that it will be seen and recognized and that a rescue would soon follow. The film was recognized. However, it was not in the way that the castaways had hoped.

In the second season of the hit series, Gilligan discovers a sunken ship just offshore. He then rushes back to the group to tell them about his find. Initially, the group believes the bumbling first-mate discovered an operable ship, so spirits are crushed when the group discovers the ship is fifteen feet underwater.

However, the castaways decide to dive into the wreckage to see what they can salvage.

The shipwrecked group includes The Skipper (Alan Hale Jr.) the captain of the S.S. Minnow; the ship on which the members of “Gilligan’s Island” crew were sailing when they were marooned. Bob Denver portrays the S.S. Minnow’s bumbling first-mate Gilligan. Jim Backus and Natalie Schafer play millionaire couple Thurston Howell and Eunice Lovelle Wentworth Howell who were on board at the time of the wreckage. Tina Louise portrayed Ginger, a famous movie star. The island also included the Professor a high school science teacher played by Russell Johnson and Dawn Wells as Mary Ann Summers, the naive Kansas farm girl.

“Gilligans Island” Castaways Make Award Winning Film

The discovery of a few crates of film equipment encourages the group to produce a movie. They decide to make a film depicting the fact the group has been marooned on the island and is waiting to be rescued. The group then plans to send the film on a raft over to the mainland hoping it will be found and they will be rescued.

With the unique cast of characters on the island, it turns out the filming of the movie is no small task.

Each member of the island has their own idea of what needs to be in the film. And members of the “film crew” get a little too flowery with the script. Ultimately, there is very little information that would lead to their rescue.

This is a fact that doesn’t occur to the castaways. Then, the castaways send the film off on the raft and wait for things to happen. However, rescue doesn’t come. Eventually, the castaways hear of a “mysterious film” that had been recovered.

The “strange film” is submitted to the famed Cannes Film Festival anonymously. The movie wins the coveted first prize, the Palm d’Or. The news crushes the “Gilligans Island” castaways. However, Gilligan hopes that his prize for the film will turn out to be a motorcycle.