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The Lightship (1985)

PG-13 | | Drama | 26 September 1986 (USA)
A trio of robbers, two brothers and their twisted genius leader, invade a lightship, but don't reckon on the crew fighting back.

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Writers:

(book), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Calvin Caspary
...
Captain Miller
Tim Phillips ...
Thorne
...
Eddie
...
Gene
Michal Skolimowski ...
Alex (as Michael Lyndon)
...
Stump
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
...
Coop
Badja Djola ...
Nate
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Storyline

Just when US Coast Guard captain Miller takes his teenage son Alex to his lightship off the coast of Virginia, Calvin Caspary and two criminal accomplices, on the run for the police, decide to hijack it. What the crazy trio didn't count on is that this small crew doesn't just keep taking it lying low, they will put up a fight. Alex hides dad's gun and wrestles his his war past and courage. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The guiding light in a sea of treachery.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »
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Details

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Language:

Release Date:

26 September 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Killers at Sea  »

Filming Locations:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Did You Know?

Trivia

"The roles of the hijacker Caspary [Robert Duvall] and the Coast Guard Captain Miller [Klaus Maria Brandauer] had to be switched before shooting began", according to show-business trade paper 'Variety', meaning that lead actors Robert Duvall and Klaus Maria Brandauer swapped parts. As such, Duvall and Brandauer were originally cast as being the captain and hijacker respectively but changed to each other's characters. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Alex: [narrating] My old man was a captain in the Coast Guard. We never saw too much of each other. Most of the time he was away at sea. But this time I was lucky. He made it to my graduation.
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Connections

Remade as Das Feuerschiff (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Please Bring Back The Original
17 July 2014 | by (Australia) – See all my reviews

After reading all the reviews for this '85 re-make, it's very clear few people read about, or research, the true origin of a good work.

This story 'Das Feuerschiff' written by a prominent German novelist is actually a semi allegorical tale. It intelligently uses symbolism to demonstrate the bullying tactics of war mongers. The writer, Siegfried Lenz (a modern humanist) has set up a brutal modern crime scenario, that symbolically parables the destructive effects of controlling regimes (ie: Nazi, or any other source of enforced power) exposing the devastating effects they inflict on innocent by-standers.

Lenz thoughtfully sets up a situation that illustrates the adage: 'Evil triumphs when good men do nothing'. The original film version of this classic story was made in Germany in 1962 (not long after the book was published) and directed by multi talented, Austrian-Hungarian born Ladislao Vajda. I saw it under the American/English title of: "Crime on the High Seas" (AKA 'The Lightship')

For my money the earlier film far outshines the poorly constructed 1985 version listed here on IMDb. It seems a great pity in the days of DVD the Award winning original has escaped a wider release. If you want to check the IMDb listing you will need to add the German title 'Das Feuerschiff' or the date ('63) after the title. The 1963 version also won awards in the Berlin Film Festival of its year.

The original version also had the distinction of being one of few films to feature the instantly recognisable Londoner (of Scottish descent) James Robertson Justice in an important dramatic lead. Robertson was a reasonably good choice for the role of Captain of the Lightship, having himself experienced Nazism while serving as a Policeman with the League of Nations, in a region under German governance.

Klaus Maria Brandauer was also a good choice as Captain in the '85 Jerzy Skolimowski vers, but the somewhat over the top performance by Robert Duvall as the homosexual leader of the criminals was somewhat unfortunate to say the least. Perhaps the screenplay writer and director must shoulder some of the blame for this. Much of the original stories depth, and the overall handling of this project, seemed unfortunately lost at sea. Often it appears as if directors and screenplay adapters may get hung up on their own sexual obsessions, sometimes loosing their grasp on the original stories main themes. The voice over narration, added later in post production, was an attempt to add story cohesion - this did not help much, if at all.

Maybe someday we'll be rewarded with the now rare, b/w German original. Find it if you can!


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