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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 »
I first saw "A High Wind in Jamaica" in the late sixties one evening on late night TV. It's a compelling, realistic, well-filmed action movie with outstanding performances by Anthony Quinn and James Coburn and a fast-paced, exciting storyline. It even features a brief appearance by Gert Frobe, of "Goldfinger" fame.
Despite the presence of young children and pirates, it's definitely not a children's movie. There are dark undertones and some surprisingly adult themes. Quinn and Coburn give first rate performances as pirates who inadvertently kidnap a group of British children on their way back to Great Britain from Jamaica after a storm...but this film belongs to Deborah Baxter. Her performance as the feisty Emily is absolutely mesmerizing. It's hard to imagine she only made two movies (she plays Teddy Roosevelt's daughter in "The Wind and The Lion"). Her acting seems well beyond her years. I guarantee it's a performance that will stick with you long after the final credits.
I highly recommend this film.
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