On the H.M.S. Defiant, during the French Revolutionary Wars, fair Captain Crawford is locked in a battle of wills against his cruel second-in-command Lt. Scott-Paget whose heavy-handed command style pushes the crew to mutiny.
Major Jock Sinclair has been in this Highland regiment since he joined as a boy piper. During the Second World War, as Second-in-Command, he was made acting Commanding Officer. Now the ... See full summary »
Monsieur Feydeau has writer's block, and he needs a new play. But he takes an opportunity to observe the upper class of 1900 Paris - Monsieur Boniface with a domineering wife, and the ... See full summary »
A cardinal is arrested for treason against the state. As a prince of his church, and a popular hero of this people, for his resistance against the Nazis during the war and afterward his ... See full summary »
During World War II, two Americans are forced to bail out and parachute into a small German town. Herr Frick, being equal parts patriotic and lonely, keeps them as prisoners of war in his ... See full summary »
Gladys Glover has just lost her modelling job when she meets filmmaker Pete Sheppard shooting a documentary in Central Park. For Pete it's love at first sight, but Gladys has her mind on ... See full summary »
Defiant's crew is part of a fleet-wide movement to present a petition of grievances to the Admiralty. Violence must be no part of it. The continual sadism of Defiant's first officer makes this difficult, and when the captain is disabled, the chance for violence increases. Written by
The tune to which the sailors dance the hornpipe is Cock O' the North, by an unknown composer. There is no printed record of it prior to 1816, but it is quite possible that it was known as a folk tune during or prior to 1797. See more »
At one point a sailor is heard singing "Oh Shenandoah." While the origins of this folk song remain unclear, most believe it originated in the early 1800s and thus would not have been known at the time of this movie's 1797 setting. See more »
Few films have tried to capture the era of Horatio Hornblower, and even fewer do it as well as this one. It's an extremely well-made movie, though a bit difficult to classify. Traditionally, in a sea adventure, the dashing, sexy leader is the hero; in this case, he's the villain (brilliantly played by Dirk Bogarde, who normally plays more sensitive chaps). The good guy turns out to be a very UNdashing and flawed, but compassionate Captain.
I think Alec Guinness is the only actor who can portray a character who is colorless yet also make him sympathetic. Perhaps the World War II era (with its emphasis on teamwork, its glorification of the average G.I., and its near-worship of able, but dull, leaders like Omar Bradley) may have influenced it, because the movie strongly emphasizes the worth of the common man, especially as personified by Anthony Quayle's character.
It's an offbeat movie: part sea adventure, part character drama, part historical epic. Critics might say it's not satisfactory in any of these areas, but those of us who love it recognize how special and even unique it is. Now that Columbia has finally released on DVD a letter-boxed version one can fully appreciate its worth, not only for the sea battle scenes, but also the many two-shots of Guinness and Bogarde interacting (or, more often, snarling) at each other.
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