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Sea Devils is directed by Raoul Walsh and written by Borden Chase. It
stars Rock Hudson, Yvonne De Carlo, Maxwell Reed, Denis O'Dea, Michael
Goodlife and Bryan Forbes. Music is by Richard Addinsell and
cinematography by Wilkie Cooper.
" Guernsey in the Channel Islands near the coast of France in the year 1800, where fishermen, prevented by war from following their usual livelihood, turned to other occupations..."
That occupation is of course smuggling, which lends one to think that Sea Devils is about to buckle our swash with a tale of derring do on the high seas. Unfortunately it doesn't pan out that way, for the pic is essentially a spy adventure set partly at sea that involves Hudson and De Carlo going backwards and forwards between England and France. They bicker, they swoon, she looks sexy, he takes his shirt off, he makes dumb decisions (he's no dashing hero type here) and she does her bit for King and Country as she hopes to stop Napoleon in his watery tracks. It's nicely colourful, the costuming adequate and the cast are fun to watch. But Walsh lets the film meander at times and it never really amounts to being more than a dressed up time filler of a movie. 6/10
A panoramic adventure during the Napoleonic Wars set on location in
Guernsey , the Channel Islands , near the coast of France in the year
1800 , where fishermen, prevented by war from following their usual
livelihood turned to other occupations . Gilliatt (enjoyable hero Rock
Hudson) along with his partner (Bryan Forbes , subsequently a good
filmmaker) are two fisherman-turned-smugglers on the agree to transport
a gorgeous woman (an attractive Ivonne De Carlo) to the French coast in
the year 1800 . The smuggler Gilliatt finds himself falling in love for
her and they come together but he feels betrayed when he later aware
this woman is a countess helping Napoleon scheme an invasion of England
and the nasty Fouche (Brunius who gets all the best lines and makes the
most of them) pursues his beautiful bride-to-be .
This exciting story packs sea romance , thrills , spectacular struggles , intrigue , and lots of gutsy adventure . Brawling , sprawling , almost primitive action in cracking pace , teeming across the screen . Raoul Walsh demonstrates a special talent for making the densest action sequences seem uncomplicated and uncluttered and his characters , like the scenes distinguished , often have an unfettered , raw power . Developed in untroubled-gusto and hardly seems to matter that many scenes are inexplicable . The movie marked the third teaming of director Raoul Walsh with star Rock Hudson who worked together on ¨Horizons West¨ and ¨Lawless breed¨, they would work together again on ¨Gun fury¨, their fourth and final movie together . Gorgeous Ivonne De Carlo as a spy who bears a mysterious past , she does an enjoyable and prominent acting . Good secondary cast with familiar hearted features as Maxwell Reed as Rantaine , Denis O'Dea as Lethierry , Michael Goodliffe as Ragan , Bryan Forbes as Willie , Jacques B. Brunius as Fouche , Arthur Wontner as Baron De Baudrec and special appearance of Gérard Oury as Napoleon . Colorful cinematography by Wilkie Cooper , filmed on location in Channel Islands ,Concarneau, Finistère, France and Nettlefold Studios, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, England, UK . Spectacular and evocative musical score by Richard Addinsell .
The motion picture produced by David Rose was well directed by Raoul Walsh . From his starts in the silent cinema he achieved successful films until the 50s and forward , early 60s , when he was less dominant , but is still stayed lots of lusty adventure , stories of comradeship and friendship , and Raoul makes the most of plentiful action scenes . Walsh was an expert director of all kind genres but with penchant in Western as ¨Colorado territory¨ , ¨They died with their boots on¨, ¨Along the great divide¨, ¨Saskatchewan¨, ¨King and four queens¨ , ¨The sheriff of fractured jaw¨, ¨A distant trumpet¨ ; Adventure as ¨Thief of Bagdad¨, ¨Captain Horatio Hornblower¨, ¨World in his hands¨, ¨Blackbeard the pirate¨ ; Warlike as ¨Objetive Burma¨ , ¨Northern pursuit¨, ¨Marines let's go¨ ; and Noir film as ¨White heat¨, ¨High Sierra¨, ¨They drive by night¨, ¨The roaring twenties¨. Rating : Fairly straightforward movie and acceptable flick . This briskly-realized action film makes it of the various of Raoul Walsh genre entries being worthwhile watching .
After a bit of trial-and-error, I managed to acquire a workable copy
(unlike another Rock Hudson vehicle in the same vein, CAPTAIN LIGHTFOOT
!) of this swashbuckler set in the Napoleonic era with the
Emperor himself played by Frenchman Gerard Oury; incidentally, I had
intended to close off 2008 by revisiting the latter's most popular
directorial effort i.e. the WWII farce DON'T LOOK NOW WE'RE BEING
SHOT AT! (1966), but had to forego it due to time constraints!
While I can't say that SEA DEVILS is very well-regarded within the genre (Leonard Maltin dismisses it with a :star::star: rating), in spite of the revered Walsh's involvement, I have to admit that I rather enjoyed it. Hudson is an impetuous rum-shipper, flanked by an amusingly grumpy Bryan Forbes, who's constantly clashing with rival Maxwell Reed; their quarrel comes to a head when they involve a woman (Yvonne De Carlo) whose activities as a spy, however, are jeopardized when Hudson misconstrues the situation! De Carlo's contribution here is far more engaging than when she played the BUCCANEER'S GIRL (1950), which I watched earlier in the month; for the record, she and Hudson had already been teamed for SCARLET ANGEL (1952), yet another costumer but which I'm not familiar with.
By the way, despite American leads, director and studio (RKO), this is a British-made effort with typically reliable supporting cast (including Dennis O'Dea as De Carlo's superior and Michael Goodliffe as her contact in France) and production values (ensuring stunning color photography throughout and a suitably rousing score). As expected, then, we get plenty of action and intrigue spiced with equally obligatory bouts of romance and comedy relief; the result hardly makes for a classic film but, in this agreeable company, it's perhaps more satisfying than such hokum has a right to be!
The early 1950s were a sort of Golden Age for those modest but
costume adventures set within pirate ships, French Foreign Legion forts,
lost cities in the jungle, medieval castles, Arabian courts, etc. These
"costumers" were always in color, the better to lure viewers away from
black-and-white TV sets, and they featured such names as John Payne,
O'Hara, Alan Ladd, Jeff Chandler, John Derek, Arlene Dahl, Tony Curtis,
This 1953 swashbuckler from RKO features a top-billed Yvonne de Carlo and an up-and-coming Rock Hudson under the competent but uninspired direction of veteran film-maker, Raoul Walsh. It's a minor effort, diverting enough to pass the time but lacking flair and style and unlikely to linger in the memory. A bit more action and a dash of humor would have been welcome additions.
The movie's main fault, however, lies in the relationship between leading man and leading lady. They're supposed to be falling in love during the course of the story but there's no passion or feeling here, merely some dutiful lines of romantic dialog. De Carlo seems too old and matronly for Hudson who needs someone sprightlier to play off against.
Hudson hadn't yet reached star status but it's pleasant to see him here before the "movie star" gloss hardened around him. His acting abilities are no more than average but he's attractive and likeable and the script finds several excuses for him to take off his shirt. At one point he's not only bare-chested but in bondage with his hands tied behind his back and a with a length of rope looped twice around his torso. This being the early '50s, his pants are worn high enough to mostly cover his navel, but those ropes passing just above and just below his nipples impart a fetishy quality which is probably sexier than many of today's nude scenes.
Swashbuckling movies in the best Douglas Fairbanks/Errol Flynn
tradition enjoyed something of a revival in the fifties, probably
because they provided the colour and spectacle which the cinema needed
as a weapon in its battle with television, and Rock Hudson was one of
several actors (others included Stewart Granger and Burt Lancaster)
endeavouring to prove themselves the heir to Flynn.
In "Sea Devils" Hudson plays Gilliatt (we never learn his Christian name), a Guernsey fisherman-cum-smuggler during the Napoleonic wars. The plot is nothing particularly original; it is essentially a basic Cold War or World War II espionage story sent back in time to an earlier period of British history. Gilliatt agrees to transport a beautiful woman to France in return for payment. She tells him that she is a refugee from the Revolution and that she needs to return to rescue her brother, who is being held captive in a dungeon, but he later comes to suspect that she may in fact be a spy for the French. Gilliatt may cheerfully disregard British law, at least as regards the evasion of import duties, but remains a patriot at heart, so is horrified that he may have played a part in assisting the enemy. Or is the lady in fact a double agent who has been working for the British all along? A sub-plot involves Gilliatt's rivalry with another smuggler, the villainous Rantaine, who has no qualms about helping the French provided he is paid enough.
Hudson's leading lady here is Yvonne De Carlo who (like a number of his leading ladies from the fifties, Jennifer Jones in "A Farewell to Arms" being another example) was slightly older than him. Although the age difference in this case was not great (Rock was 28 in 1953, Yvonne 31), this perhaps made him unusual in a decade when Hollywood's leading male stars were often cast against much younger women. I certainly can't agree with the reviewer who found Yvonne too old for the part; in the early fifties she was one of Hollywood's loveliest female stars.
"Sea Devils" is reasonably entertaining, but it has no great action set- pieces and it cannot compare to the really great swashbucklers like the Errol Flynn "Adventures of Robin Hood" or "The Sea Hawk". It does, however, remain watchable today, if only for the charisma of its two leads. 6/10
Some goofs. Although the film is set in 1800, Napoleon is referred to as "Emperor" of France. He did not become Emperor until 1804; in 1800 his title would have been First Consul. The French name "Lethierry" is consistently mispronounced as "Letheery".
This is a disappointing minor swashbuckler considering it was written
by a fairly competent screenwriter (Borden Chase) and directed by the
usually dependent Raoul Walsh. Rock Hudson plays a fisherman turned
smuggler during the Napoleonic wars who becomes embroiled in some
routine espionage shenanigans after falling for Yvonne De Carlo. Hudson
has a sidekick in the bizarre diminutive form of Bryan Forbes, who
looks faintly ridiculous in the role of a spirited, hard-drinking
smuggler. Their relationship put me in mind of the great Errol Flynn
and Alan Hale flicks of the 30s and 40s, which was a bad thing for this
film because Hudson and Forbes are no Flynn and Hale.
Hudson's character is as dislikeable as it's possible for a movie hero to be. he has the moody, impetuous temperament of a lovesick schoolboy for much of the film, and it's no coincidence that the film livens up only when he is off-screen. He spends much of his time on-screen dramatically baring his nipples and striking manly poses which should, when you think about it, lend this effort a fairly high camp quotient, but strangely the film stubbornly refuses to develop any kind of character. The ending, when it finally, belatedly arrives, is as rushed and anti-climactic as you are likely to find...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film needed to be somewhat longer and more scenes needed to be
with the Napoleon character, as Yvonne De Carlo, a British spy
desperately tries to learn military secrets from the French.
Rock Hudson is a smuggler who falls in with DeCarlo and then thinking that she is against England, kidnaps her.
The film could have used much more swashbuckling. There is intrigue and treachery, buy it is under stated tremendously.
Nice to see the carrier pigeon at work delivering messages to the British. The butler is an interesting character in the film, but too bad his character wasn't developed more.
The dialogue in this movie is ploddingly pedantically awful - and there
is so much of it! Maybe it is because the film is set the early 19th
Century and people are trying to make it look classy but everyone in
this film gives full weight to every syllable of their every line.
There is not a single "ain't," "shalln't," "can't," or "won't" in the
whole thing. Everything is delivered in a very stagy mock-formal manner
that, had it been camped up might have been amusing, but, as it wasn't,
is merely grindingly dull.
The writer, Borden Chase, was obviously much happier with westerns - he wrote the classic Red River amongst others - and seems to have been overawed by the language when adapting a novel by such a revered writer as Victor Hugo (who also wrote Les Misrables) - or he was just plain out of his depth when attempting to write a 'period' piece. For whatever reason, the dialogue is stilted and clumsy; sounding at times like a dubbed Italian movie rather than a film written by someone who's first language was English.
Not as bad as some - but dull.
I would definitely agree with the majority of reviewers here, a buckler
without much swash. :o Really wasn't feeling it between Rock Hudson and
Yvonne DeCarlo and he just seemed much too young for her, IMO. The
dialogue between them just seem forced and stunted. I did appreciate
the scenes with his shirt off though, no one can deny Rock Hudson was a
handsome, well built man.
However, as a nautical fiction/ history fan, this movie hit on 7 out of 8 cylinders and I DVR'd it just to be able to see it again on that note.
First of all, it is loosely(very) based on Victor Hugo's 1866 classic "The Toilers of the Sea". (He wrote Les Miserables, 1862)Some of the main characters have the same names from the story, Gilliatt(the Cunning!),Rantaine, Lethierry, and Deruchette, the Yvonne DeCarlo role. Secondly, it was filmed in the same locale as The Toilers of the Sea was based on, Guernsey of the The Channel Islands off of France. This location is also where Victor Hugo lived(while writing) and of which he writes of extensively in the book. (Still used today as the most detailed account of that coastal/island geography).
As I have yet to visit those islands, it was wonderful to see in the movie the intermingling huge blocks of boulders/rocks, unique grasses and surrounding sea so beautifully depicted. The rocky points, towering cliffs and walls of an old harbor are all shown, in color no less although some scenes are at dusk and dark on purpose. My next viewing will be to solidly identify which of the castles or low built fortifications they actually filmed on. What fun for a nautical fan! :>
This is why I gave it a 5 out of 10. (obviously not on the merits of the movie itself, but it's quasi story origin and filming location!) Enjoy! :D
This is a wannabee swashbuckler set in the Napoleonic era with Rock
Hudson as a bare chested dashing pirate evading the customs men and
Bryan Forbes as his faithful mate. Maxwell Reid plays his rival who is
a true bounder.
The lovely Yvonne DeCarlo is mixed up in this as a British spy send over to France to obtain important information but Reid ends up in jail after getting involved in a fight with Hudson.
DeCarlo has to use Hudson to get over to France but only for Hudson to be a hindrance as he thinks she might be a French spy and even worse he fell for her sob story to get her over there.
The film has no swash or buckle. There are some decent sailing sequences and Hudson will keep his male fans happy with his bare chest. However the story is pants, with little chemistry between DeCarlo and Hudson, we neither care if DeCarlo is a double spy or not and the sequence where Reid and Hudson join up is stupid because they hate each other and we can guess betrayal in in the air.
Director Raoul Walsh has made better films.
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