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Reviews & Ratings for
Sailor of the King More at IMDbPro »Single-Handed (original title)

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31 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

One of the truly great WWII movies

Author: Taggesell from Salt Lake City
21 May 2005

I remember this film as being one of my Dad's favorite films as my brother's and I were growing up in the 1950s. I had described this movie to many people since then and no one else seemed to know what I was talking about. Then, in about 1990, the cable network, American Movie Classics (AMC) ran the film a couple of times and the film disappeared once more.

Everything about this film is just right. The storyline, music, acting and suspense are what makes a film a memorable experience. When I think of all the junk films that get picked up by AMC, Fox Movie Classics (FMC) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM), I have to wonder who is selecting the films these channels broadcast. They must have someone there who doesn't like Black & White Films. There were a handful of films made in the 10 years that followed WWII that are simply "Must Have" movies that people would like to add to their collections that the studios are either clueless about or they know nothing about the "Gold in their Vaults".

Consider how long it took to get Battleground released on DVD. Then think about Sailor of The King (Jeffrey Hunter), The Gallant Hours (James Cagney), Decision Before Dawn (Oskar Werner), 36 Hours (James Garner), and ask yourself if Hollywood is capable of making anything like these films again. You won't like the answer.

Come on Fox, get these films out.

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29 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

They Don't Make Adventure Stories Like This Anymore

Author: Piafredux from United States
19 June 2003

Whichever of its titles you choose to like (I first saw this film as 'Sailor Of The King'), this is a fine adventure story.

The theme is inborn filial devotion to king, country (or Commonwealth), democracy, duty, and decency: inborn since the main character (played stirringly by Jeffrey Hunter as the ordinary bloke, Brown, who rises to the challenge of extraordinary circumstances) doesn't know who his father is, and the plot development tantalizes us with the nearness of the dispelling of Brown's ignorance.

I have heard that C.S. Forester wrote the novel as an adventure story for boys. No matter, the film builds slowly to a taut, exciting climax that viewers of all ages can thrill to.

Jeffrey Hunter was wonderfully handsome, and he could act; it would be lovely if such talent could also be found in today's (2003's) non-nutritional, unsatisfying crop of young male leads. Wendy Hiller's acting is always superb, and though she has a small part in 'Sailor of the King' she plays it with all her crackling, yet understated verve; Hiller's expressive, soulful eyes should have inspired the composition of a long, gorgeous symphony. Michael Rennie, another handsome and talented - and underappreciated - actor, gives a good effort too.

Though the plot is fictional, it doesn't matter a whit. 'Sailor Of The King' is a splendid adventure film, the likes of which "they just don't make anymore." This is the sort of film you can watch every six months, just for the pure joy of its congealing plot and the anxiety in its inspiring denouement. Pity 'Sailor Of The King' has not made it onto DVD.

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25 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Two endings

Author: laholly from United States
20 January 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I first saw this excellent film on the old Saturday night at the movies more years ago than i care to admit. I will admit that i did NOT see the beginning of it,which is why when i watched it again years later that the scene between Michael Rennie and Wendy Hiller made no sense(I thought I was watching a different movie.) Be that as it may, Sailor of the king remains one of my all time favorites. It is well crafted,and the tension builds to a peak as the Essen pulls out of the grotto where it has gone for repairs, leaving Seaman Brown behind. In his first major film roll, Jeffrey Hunter is excellent. One can see the frustration on his face as the the Essen leaves.(only to be blasted out of the water by the British Navy.). I didn't realize that there were actually two endings filmed for this,one with a far happy ending, but true to the book, Brown on Resolution, on which it is based.According to film trivia both endings were shown to a preview audience and they opted for Brown being rescued. Michael Rennie and Wendy Hiller are pivotal to the story and excellent as always, but the film is all Jeffrey Hunter. I particularly enjoyed the scene at the end when Hunter is talking to Michael Rennie and Rennie tells them they will be putting into port in Brown's home town in Canada. Hunter says that he wants Rennie to meet his mother to which Rennie replies that he would be quite pleased(.....!) Then of course the King comes in and both snap to attention to the tune of God save the King...... goosebump time. I suspect that I should try to track down the alternative ending sometime.. Am not sure how the final scene would play out in it.

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26 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Courage in the face of Overwhelming Odds.

Author: James S. Prine ( from New Orleans, Louisiana
7 October 1999

Jeffrey Hunter is very good in this splendid account of a British seaman who pits himself single-handedly in a desperate battle against a huge German warship.

Slow-moving at first, the action builds inexorably into a grand and (at least for me) very satisfactory climax. Who cares about realism when you can have this much fun?

Michael Rennie (one of my favorite actors) is well-cast in his role, and Bernard Lee (you might know him as James Bond's chief) is also very good.

If you see this movie and enjoy it, you might also be interested in Peter O'Toole's "Murphy's War", which is quite similar in many respects.

I rate this good old movie 7.5 out of 10.

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24 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Superlative movie making in all aspects

Author: claymoremine from Southeast USA
1 July 2004

I had never seen the title of the movie as "Single-Handed." Nonetheless, this movie is near perfection. Without question, however, the ending is the crown jewel of the picture. Some have commented that the movie is "unrealistic." Perhaps if more movies fit that criteria movie going would be a much more enjoyable experience. Patrons don't need to be preached to about a particular high-profile director's, star's, or producer's politics or social commentary. A simple ride with an imaginative story and great, optimistic ending are all that's needed to get me to part with my money. Yes, this movie should be on DVD ASAP!!

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24 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Superb vehicle for Jeffrey Hunter

Author: roger-164 ( from London, England
22 February 2003

Jeffrey Hunter sparkles in this film. I only wish it were on DVD! From the moment he appears on the screen he has the audience in his pocket. Strangely, the film has two endings - one happy, the other sad. Audiences were asked to vote for which one they liked best. I am astonished that this fine actor has fallen out of public favour and so little of his work is available on video. He had real charisma and charm. And he could act. It's about time someone presented a Jeffrey Hunter season on TV.

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17 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Why IMDb is so much fun

Author: martinsj013 from Tunbridge Wells, England
26 February 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this film recently on Channel 4 (UK) - by the way I think it was under the alternative title of "Sailor of the King" - and like the earlier reviewers I very much enjoyed it. It reminded me in a way of Battle of the River Plate - at least the scenes on board ship.

I thought it was worth adding two points to the earlier reviews (the second one is a possible *SPOILER*).

First, that Jeffrey Hunter's character is actually supposed to be Canadian - or at any rate, brought up in Canada - I suppose that neatly explains how a man with the "transatlantic" accent was found on board a Royal Navy ship.

Second, towards the very end of the film, the audience is addressed directly and invited, "for the first time in cinema history" or somesuch, to see two different conclusions, and to vote for their preferred one on leaving the showing. I'd be interested to know if this was actually the first time this was done, and what the results were!

Oh, the fun of IMDb? Well, it dawned on me gradually during the film that I had seen Jeffrey Hunter before, and eventually that it was in the Start Trek pilot episode, as Captain Pike. A few minutes on IMDb not only confirmed this but also told me that he played Jesus in King of Kings, which was new to me.

IMDb also confirmed something I had already worked out - that Bernard Lee progressed from Petty Officer (here) to Captain (Battle of the River Plate) to head of MI6 (surely no need to say where!).

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17 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Naval War Drama with interesting ending

Author: John Reddington from Midwest United States
15 April 2001

Excellent British naval war movie with Jeffrey Hunter. There are few movies of this type --as this is centered on sea action. I think of the movie "Pursuit of the Graf Spree" when watching this movie. This movie takes awhile to get going but is worth the wait.

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19 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Great role for Jeffrey Hunter and a touching love-affair...

Author: Gregor Hauser (gregorhauser) from Salzburg, Austria
2 May 2002

...between Hiller and Rennie.

"Sailor of the king" seems to be a lot of fiction. But it is a gripping story of two lovers in WW1 and the adventures of their son in WW2.

I love the beginning of the movie with shy Michael Rennie and the charming Wendy Hiller. Then Jeff comes and takes the command. It is very thrilling to watch him shooting Peter van Eyck who is a famous german actor and plays very well too.

I do not like the ending. It is too unrealistic. >

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9 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Fine flick, with some of the most accurate action shots ever

Author: colin-411 from Clearwater, FL
20 May 2011

A fine film, with good acting and excellent pacing-it never drags. This film will appeal to a wide audience, as the romantic and heart-breaking portions will appeal to one group, while the great action shots will appeal to a different audience.

One thing that is almost unique is that this is one of the few films that shows the crews donning flash suits. Flash suits are made of white fire-resistant material to prevent burns from firing the large guns in such close proximity, and fires caused by enemy action. In most naval movies the crews don't the flash suits. For the main actors, there is an obvious reason- you can't see their faces, but in this film all the British crews don the suits (though they don't wear the hoods that cover the face and neck). This makes this film more accurate than almost all WWI and WWII naval films.

Da Worfster, a previous reviewer, made the following comment: "Of course the ships are way to modern to be WWII vintage craft "-This is incorrect. The ships used in the film are HMS Glasgow, HMS Cleopatra, and HMS Manxman, and all three served during WWII, the Glasgow for the entire war, while the other two joined the war in 1941.

One last historical note: British and German ships used different optical rangefinder systems. The German system was more accurate, but lost accuracy from the concussion of the gun firing during battle. The British system was not as accurate, but more rugged and better in dim light. The result of this is actually shown during this film, with the German shells straddling the British with the first shots, but then losing accuracy as the battle progressed, while the British shooting got better as they 'got the range'.

All-in-all, a fine film, well made, and with better accuracy than most. Recommended.

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