During World War One a British aristocrat, an American entrepreneur and the latter's attractive young daughter, set out to destroy a German battle-cruiser which is awaiting repairs in an inlet just off Zanzibar.
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Just prior to World War One the hard drinking sharpshooting, Irish American Colonel Flynn O'Flynn, uses British aristocrat Sebastian Oldsmith to help poach ivory from German controlled territory in East Africa, putting them at odds with Herman Fleischer, the local German Provincial Commander. When Sebastian is infected with malaria he is nursed back to health by Flynn's daughter Rosa, they fall in love and marry. Not long after Britain declares war on Germany and they are drawn into the conflict, ultimately making a daring attack on the German armored cruiser SMS Blücher as it undergoes repairs in a local estuary. Written by
Chris Frost <email@example.com>
In his 2008 autobiography "My Word Is My Bond", Roger Moore recalled that Lee Marvin got into a fight with Japanese journalists at an airport while making this film. He said Marvin still hated the Japanese because of his war experiences. See more »
During the church wedding scene the choir sings a hymn in Maltese (the filming location was Malta and the extras were mostly Maltese), although the story takes place in Portuguese African territory. See more »
As a World War One naval buff, I enjoy this film on one level. As a film enthusiast, I enjoy it on another, all the more so for it being based on fact.
The actual story of the Koenigsberg is actually far less glamorous than the fate of the Blucher in this film but no less enthralling. After the ship was destroyed, her crew joined the German land forces under Count Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck and, together with their few thousand fiercely loyal African troops, fought 1 million British soldiers to a standstill for 4 years until, after the Armistice, they surrendered to the Portuguese, undefeated and proud. A tale well worth reading, far better than the fiction.
Back to the film. The central character is one Flynn O'Flynn, a thoroughly disreputable character, played by Lee Marvin. Always good value for money, he merely reprises Ben Rumson in Africa - no effort required! Roger Moore, aged 49, plays the 'young' interest! Mind you, he don't look bad for it! He is married to the delectable Barbara Parkins, Flynn's daughter Rosa, really the only female character in the film, a grim role she carries off to perfection. Fleischer, the evil German, the exact opposite of von Lettow-Vorbeck, is brilliantly overplayed by Rene Kolldehoff - he really is unlikeable! Also look out for Ian Holm as the mute Arab servant Mohammed.
The film has great pace, really rolling along, well shot in wonderful scenery. It has been well researched too. The Blucher, an actual German cruiser, has been pretty accurately recreated. The whole film has a very genuine feel.
I can see why it's not popular with female viewers. It's quite bloody, very cruel and Barbara Parkins character has a dreadful time of it. The scene in which the farm is burned is quite harrowing.
There are plenty of laughs too. Flynn O'Flynn has all of Ben Rumson's comic characteristics. The big fight between Marvin and Moore is very funny. And then there's Roger Moore blacked up as an African porter - he's about as convincing as I would be - and I'm blond!
If you're a fan of Ripping Yarns, then this one is for you. If not, then I wouldn't bother.
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