New York tourist Tony Curtis falls asleep on a Southern California beach on his first night in the West and wakes up to The New Phantasmagoria--catamarans, surfers (including a dog), ... See full summary »
A mother drops her son and husband off at a tropical vacation spot for a little rest and relaxation. The only problem is that the husband has been dead for quite some time, and his wife had... See full summary »
The parents of children living in Jamaica, afraid that the kids are growing up uncivilized, decide to send them to England. But during the voyage, the childrens' ship is boarded by pirates and in the confusion the children wind up trapped on the pirate ship. The children view it as a lark, and one of them, a girl named Emily, develops an unusual bond with Chavez, the pirate captain. The superstitious pirates can't wait to unload the kids at the first port, but a tragedy prevents it, and Emily's relationship with Chavez takes a fateful twist. Written by
This film had a long and troubled history. Richard Hughes's original novel, published in 1929, is a dark and disturbing story, and James Mason, who greatly admired it, wanted to make a film of it in the 1950s, producing it for Twentieth Century-Fox as well as playing one of the leads. However, the studio saw it as a light-hearted Disney-style pirate adventure aimed at a family audience; several years after Mason's plans had come to nothing, they revived the project along these lines with Nunnally Johnson assigned as writer and producer. When Alexander Mackendrick was approached to direct, he was appalled by the travestying of Hughes's novel, and was able to persuade leading man Anthony Quinn that a more faithful and disturbing version of the book was a better idea. Johnson's script was rejected. Quinn used his (considerable) influence to help Mackendrick and the ensuing film was highly praised; it was, however, cut by the studio by about 25 minutes, which Mackendrick claimed had ruined it. He always insisted subsequently that he should never have attempted the film, which was a box-office failure. See more »
The hurricane at the beginning of the film is rather clearly created with a combination of wind machines and water sprayed onto the set. Despite the torrential downpour there is sun-dappling beneath the tree where Emily is looking for her cat, and blue sky and puffy white clouds are visible in the distance behind her and her father. See more »
A HIGH WIND IN JAMAICA (Alexander Mackendrick, 1965) ***
I had watched this eons ago on Italian TV but had long forgotten it - the film does come across as somewhat unmemorable at the end of the day, but this offbeat pirate-adventure-with-child-interest has a beguiling charm all its own. That said, the film's very low-key nature might not win it much approval among action-film fans...
Curiously enough, half the film is actually spoken in Spanish (without the benefit of English subtitles!) - and, while it tends to wander because of this, also gives the proceedings a welcome air of full-blooded vividness! Anthony Quinn is his usual larger-than-life self, but his befuddled interaction with the kids endears him to viewers even more here. James Coburn is very amusing as Quinn's second-in-command, who can't speak a word of Spanish and is often at a loss as to what is going on around him (though I would have liked some form of an explanation as to his incongruous presence there). Dennis Price has a notable cameo towards the very end as a solicitor leeringly prying into the children's 'experience' with the pirates, while "guest star" Gert Frobe only appears in one crucial scene as a wounded Dutch captain (but who eventually has a huge bearing on the plot resolution); the film also features Nigel Davenport as the children's father and Lila Kedrova as a 'tavern-keeper'.
The opening hurricane sequence - which gives the film (and the novel it is based on) its title - is extremely well done, though the climactic courtroom sequence and its outcome (the willful execution of the pirates) is rather too rushed to be as effective as it needs to be. The antics of the children, of English and Spanish origins, are fun to watch - but Deborah Baxter leaves the best impression, as she is the one to bond most with Quinn. Larry Adler's lovely score subtly accentuates Douglas Slocombe's colorful widescreen imagery.
Alexander Mackendrick was an American-born/Scotland-bred director who made his name at Britain's famed Ealing Studios and went on to have a very brief but often brilliant career; this was actually his penultimate work. Incidentally, the two films of his I've yet to watch
MANDY (1952) and SAMMY GOING SOUTH (1963) - also feature children as
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