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When Eight Bells Toll (1971) Poster

Trivia

This picture was planned as being the first of a series of spy movies featuring the character of Philip Calvert (in this film played by Anthony Hopkins). Around this time, it was known that Sean Connery would not be doing another James Bond film after Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and there was speculation that the Bond franchise might end. As such, a potential vacuum was sensed by rival producer Elliott Kastner. But when this movie failed at the box-office, plans for a film franchise to succeed the James Bond movies were scrapped.
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First top-billed lead role in a movie for actor Anthony Hopkins.
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Actor Anthony Hopkins and production secretary Jennifer Lynton met whilst making this picture and were later married.
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The term "Eight bells" of the film and source novel's 'When Eight Bells Toll' title is a shipping reference to the hour of midnight. The phrase "Eight Bells" is also a nautical euphemism indicating "finished" as well as an expression stating the end of a sailor's watch (as in an obituary).
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According to stuntman Bob Simmons's 1987 book 'Nobody Does It Better: My 25 Years of Stunts With James Bond and Other Stories', Simmons helped actor 'Anthony Hopkins' slim down and prepare for the lead role of Phillip Calvert in this film, a character who was a frogman, commando and Royal Naval officer.
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This movie was made and released about five years after its source novel of the same name by Alistair MacLean was first published in 1966. 'When Eight Bells Toll' was MacLean's eleventh novel and this movie was the sixth film adaptation of one of MacLean's stories.
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Debut film in the English language for French actress Nathalie Delon.
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This movie was made and released only about a year after the very similarly titled "When the Bell Tolls" (aka When the Bell Tolls (1969)).
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The movie's finale replaces Alistair MacLean's original detective style summation ending from the novel with instead a big shoot-out.
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The name of the hijacked ship was the 'Nantesville'.
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According to the film's production notes, producers Elliott Kastner and Jerry Gershwin commissioned novelist Alistair MacLean to write two more Philip Calvert spy adventure screenplays but when this film was not successful at the box-office, these projects went into turnaround.
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The 'Los Angeles Herald-Examiner' reported in July 1966 that two 'Alistair Maclean' screenplays, for Where Eagles Dare (1968) and When Eight Bells Toll (1971), had been bought by producers Jerry Gershwin and Elliott Kastner. MacLean was uncredited for the novel and the script for both these two pictures.
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Actor Prentis Hancock went uncredited for his role as an agent but later sources include him in the cast list.
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The 20th August 1969 edition of 'Daily Variety' reported that Jay Kanter would be performing executive producer duties on this film but Kanter does not feature in the credits for this picture.
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This adaptation of an Alistair MacLean paperback page-turner was released between the MacLean filmed-novel adaptations Where Eagles Dare (1968) and Puppet on a Chain (1971).
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One of two filmed adaptations of an Alistair MacLean novel made and released in 1971, the other was Puppet on a Chain (1971). MacLean's novel 'Bear Island' was also first published in 1971.
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Helicopters seen in the movie include an Aérospatiale Alouette II and the main one being a Westland Widgeon copter.
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Actor Michael Jayston was considered for the lead role of Philip Calvert, the part going to Anthony Hopkins.
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The film's title has often been confused with the classic For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943).
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The nickname of the spy-boss character Sir Arthur Arnford-Jones (played by Robert Morley) was "Uncle Arthur".
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Producer Elliott Kastner has said of this film: "Proportionately, it made more than Where Eagles Dare (1968), so I cannot say it disappointed me. But the distribution deals weren't as efficient as they could have been. I sold it to Rank for distribution in the UK, and that was all right. In the US, it went to one of the distribution companies owned by our financier, and that may not have been the wisest route in terms of market saturation".
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The name of Sir Anthony Skouros' yacht was 'Shangri-La' whilst the name of Phillip Calvert's yacht was 'Firecrest'.
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