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Somewhere in the 18th century Great Britain, noble but penniless young boy John Mohune is sent by his dying mother to Moonfleet, to put himself under the protection of a certain Jeremy Fox. The boy discovers that Fox is both a former lover of his mother and the leader of a gang of buccaneers. A strange friendship grows as their adventures go on. Written by
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Solid and enjoyable adventure suitable and accessible for family viewing
Young John Mohune comes to Dorset to meet a man called Jeremy Fox who he believes was a friend of his late mother and will help look after him. Expecting a friend in Fox, John is upset to find an uncaring man who has no interest in John. He persists though in trying to gain the friendship and attention of Fox even in the face of great dissuasion. All Fox's acquaintances are rather desperate men, which fly in the face of his rather "proper" appearance. John doesn't suspect anything, being a child, but the area is famous for smugglers and Fox may be connected and perhaps be more dangerous than anyone realises not least the innocent John Mohune.
I watched this film simply because I was a bit taken aback by the fact that it was a Fritz Lang film. Not being a name I would have associated with a period film I decided to take a look and see what he did with it. In fairness Falkner's source material does give him something to work with and there are interesting themes and ideas running through it. It takes a little bit to get going but after a while the smuggling story and the relationships make for a good adventure that is brisk enough for children while also having a bit of meat for the adults. I quite enjoyed the sweeping adventure feel it had but I was more interested in the character of Fox, who is never a "good man" and is all the better for it (in terms of the narrative). Lang appears to be interested in this as well, and he does make Fox the biggest part of the film.
Granger rises to this by turning in a solid performance where he is a rough character but not to the point where he loses the audience. The problem with the film is not with him unfortunately it is with Jon Whiteley. He is too cute and very much a child actor and I don't mean that in a good way. He isn't really able to emote and, apologies for the lack of intelligent criticism, but he just got on my nerves. I'm sure this film didn't want to go too deep but I would be happy to see a remake of this with a stronger and more natural child actor in the role, that may allow the relationship to be developed a bit further. Sanders is always a welcome presence but he is given very little to do. The rest of the support cast are all solid enough but the film is pretty much Granger's and he works it well even if Whiteley isn't up to much.
Overall though this is a solid little adventure tale that makes for solid family viewing. It is brisk and swashbuckling enough to entertain children while the solid yarn will engage adults. The cast mostly give a good account of themselves and, while I didn't hate him, I must admit that Whiteley was annoying to me personally and his performance here suggested a good education but a limited ability.
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