Tuesday, January 17, 2017

When Eight Bells Toll (1971)

Director: Etienne Perier

Writer: Alistair MacLean

Composer: Angela Morley

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Robert Morley, Nathalie Delon, Jack Hawkins, Corin Redgrave, Derek Bond, Ferdy Mayne, Maurice Roeves, Leon Collins, Wendy Allnutt

More info: IMDb

Plot: A British agent, Philip Calvert, is on a mission to determine the whereabouts of a ship that disappeared near the coast of Scotland.

My rating:

Will I watch it again?  No.

This rather dull spy adventure has enough going for it to justify giving it a watch.  It's neat seeing Anthony Hopkins (in his first top-billed role) as a secret agent ala James Bond.  He's a down and dirty, no frills man of action.  It's odd seeing him in light but fun just the same.  Stunt legend Bob Simmons is the main stuntman on this picture who also played Hopkins' stunt double.  Simmons is most famous for being the stunt coordinator and double for Connery and Moore in nearly every Bond picture from '62 to '85.  The rest of the cas does fine and having Robert Morley and Jack Hawkins in the mix never hurt anyone's picture.  I learned something about Hawkins that I never knew.  He was dubbed in all of his roles after surgery for throat Cancer in 1965.  He was dubbed by Charles Gray (as he was in this film) or Robert Rietty.  Angela Morley's (as Walter Stott) score sometimes works well.  Her main theme is outrageous and outdated for what this movie is (but I really dig it).  It would be perfect for an over the top Eurospy film from say 1965 but one that would have the action to match it.  This film is at odds with the theme as there's rarely any moments that compliment the brashness of the music.  Most everything about this picture is low key and is void of the bright, outdoor settings and action you'd find in the Bond pictures.  It's probably the story and drabness of the locations that hurt this movie more than anything else.  There's not much excitement and considering MacLean's other work, this one is a low point for sure.

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