Plot: The film opens in a small English coastal town, it is the late 18th Century, and most of the local community are involved in harmless smuggling; but a band of vicious wreckers under Black John (Lee) is deliberately luring merchant ships onto the rocks to loot them of their cargo. The local squire (Cushing) sends for troops from the Duke of Avon (Malleson) to track down the smugglers and the wreckers - on the journey, his stage is held up by an honorable local highwayman known as The Captain. The troops capture a group of the local smugglers, and with Black John as the chief witness, the Squire (acting very suspiciously) sentences them to deportation. The Squire's son, Christopher is in love with the daughter of one of the men; she confers with The Captain and they come up with a plan to rescue the men before they are deported, and to stop Black John's reign of terror. But they face problems while the truth behind the Squire's actions come to light.
My rating: 6.5/10
Will I watch it again? Nay, once was sufficient.
Of the few pirate movies Hammer did, this one's the most enjoyable. The performances are solid and the pacing is light enough to keep it from getting stale. It's funny, I saw Bernard ('M' from the Bond series) Lee's name in the opening credits but I couldn't find him anywhere. The closing credits revealed he played the villain, Black John. THE HELL??? I went back to see how I could have missed recognizing him. After doing so, I still can't see that it's him. He's heavily costumed up with facial hair and his accent is so far from his Bond persona that it's nearly impossible to see anything familiar. Now THAT'S acting!
There's a great sword fight about halfway through the picture that looks real (as in the actors really giving it their all) and the sword clashes sound more realistic than most. It really feels like they used the sound captured at the time of filming. Good stuff.