Hero & company pursue damsel & ward, on sea & through jungle
The theme music is memorable, voice characterizations well done, characters are interesting, but the story is condensed SO MUCH that hardly anything is left from Charles Kingsley's classic original novel. The screenplay is straightforward with no songs or silliness, although a monkey character is added. Many exotic animals are shown and the adventures are 70% land, 30% sea. Picture quality is fair to good but lacking sharpness. Colors are not faded. The story opens in 1572 with Rose Salterne, her father and Lucy Oxenham(a substitution and adaption of the novels character Ayacanora)on board the sailing vessel Queen Elizabeth. It is loaded with gold & spices from the Americas and headed to England. Lucy is being escorted back to complete her schooling. Within no time they encounter the dreaded Spanish pirate Don Guzman who fires upon and sinks the Queen Elizabeth. He takes as captives Rose and Lucy, sending the rest off in small boats. Upon the crews landing, Mr. Salterne enlists the aid of Amos(Amyas in novel)Leigh to recover his daughter & Lucy. Amos selects among others, Will Carry, a close friend, and Salvation Yeo. Salvation is a sailor who resembles Shakespeare's Othello, & perhaps not coincidentally Kingsley makes reference to the play a few times in his novel. The one main difference is that in the book he speaks perfect English, but not in the movie. They start off on horseback, then board a ship to Jamaica. When they sight land, the village turns out to be demolished by the hands of Don Guzman. The crew meet up with a native Indian boy, Teo, and his monkey who join them on their adventures. Continuing their travels on sea they run into their arch enemy and battle it out. The Queen Elizabeth is run aground. A chase begins on land. Amos & crew encounter a cannibal tribe in what they think might be a lost Inca city. They are captured & tied up but rescued by the Sun Goddess who turns out to be Lucy. On the run again through jungle, then on raft, and off to Santa Marta. They are able to recover a previous ship and are joined by the rest of the crew. From this point on Lucy, Teo and monkey are left behind as Amos leads his group in a last desperate attempt to find and stop Don Guzman from marrying Rose. Among the voice cast of Westward Ho it is interesting to note that 2 of them were in TV "comedy team" biography films. Bob Baines in Bud and Lou(1978), Philip Hinton in The 3 Stooges(2000). Noel Trevanthen has the most impressive credits having appeared in episodes of The New Avengers; Dynasty; and Hercules-The Legendary Journeys. His movies include, It(1965), and, The Vengeance of Fu Manchu(1967). Westward Ho, the novel, was 1st published in 1855 and is available to read on-line. Other sea adventure novels of the time were Moby Dick(1851), James Fenimore Cooper's Afloat and Ashore(1844) + Old Ironsides(1853), and William H.G. Kingston's Peter the Whaler(1851). Rafael Sabatini's novel, The Sea Hawk(1915) would be a good follow up to Westward Ho as it starts where Kingsley leaves off, 1588-1593. Kingsley's novel, unlike The Sea Hawk, does present a problem here, as editing & adapting a 400+ page novel to a 50 minute film with a youthful target audience is a Herculean task. The book is not an easy one to adapt into any medium. No wonder it was only adapted once before, and then as a (?64 minute) silent film. Charles Kingsley's other works include Water Babies(filmed twice) and Hereward the Wake(made into a British TV series in 1965).
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