A young orphan is sent to the village of Moonfleet, in Dorset, England to stay with his mother's former lover, who has the facade of a gentleman but is a leader of a gang of swashbuckling bo... Read allA young orphan is sent to the village of Moonfleet, in Dorset, England to stay with his mother's former lover, who has the facade of a gentleman but is a leader of a gang of swashbuckling bootleggers. The duo went on a treasure hunt.A young orphan is sent to the village of Moonfleet, in Dorset, England to stay with his mother's former lover, who has the facade of a gentleman but is a leader of a gang of swashbuckling bootleggers. The duo went on a treasure hunt.
Fox takes a liking to the boy, and a friendship grows up between them. Unknown to John, however, Fox is not the respectable country gentleman he appears. His main source of wealth is his involvement in the lucrative, but highly illegal, smuggling trade, and he has plans to go into partnership with Lord Ashwood, a local nobleman, in a venture which involves plundering foreign ships and which effectively falls little short of piracy. The debonair Fox is also something of a ladies man, with at least two mistresses, one of whom denounces him to the authorities when he tires of her. The main plot concerns Fox and John's search for a long-lost diamond which had once belonged to one of the Mohune family.
"Moonfleet" has similarities to "Treasure Island" although it is set in Britain rather than on a remote tropical island. The relationship between the likable rogue Fox (a name presumably chosen because of its connotations of cunning) and young John parallels that between Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins. The film has been aptly described as situated on the boundary between a traditional cape and sword adventure and a Gothic horror movie. The style of acting is more that of the swashbuckling adventure. Stewart Granger, taking over where Errol Flynn left off, made something of a speciality of dashing heroes in historical costume dramas ("Blanche Fury", "Saraband for Dead Lovers", "Scaramouche" and "Beau Brummell" are other examples) and he makes an attractive hero here. The other contribution that stands out is from George Sanders, always a good villain, as the corrupt aristocrat Ashwood.
Director Fritz Lang, however, brings a very Gothic look to the film. Moonfleet may be situated on one of the most scenic counties in England, but it is no picturesque village. The atmosphere is often a dark, gloomy one, with numerous shots of the shabby alehouse or the mist-shrouded churchyard. Fox may be a likable rogue, but the smugglers are for the most part dangerous ones who would have no compunction about murdering a child. (There is a fine duel between Fox and one of their number fought to decide whether John should live or die after he inadvertently overhears their plans). This is not a great film, but is nevertheless a well-made, watchable adventure. 6/10
- Feb 24, 2006