19 June 2003 | Piafredux
They Don't Make Adventure Stories Like This Anymore
Whichever of its titles you choose to like (I first saw this film as 'Sailor Of The King'), this is a fine adventure story.
The theme is inborn filial devotion to king, country (or Commonwealth), democracy, duty, and decency: inborn since the main character (played stirringly by Jeffrey Hunter as the ordinary bloke, Brown, who rises to the challenge of extraordinary circumstances) doesn't know who his father is, and the plot development tantalizes us with the nearness of the dispelling of Brown's ignorance.
I have heard that C.S. Forester wrote the novel as an adventure story for boys. No matter, the film builds slowly to a taut, exciting climax that viewers of all ages can thrill to.
Jeffrey Hunter was wonderfully handsome, and he could act; it would be lovely if such talent could also be found in today's (2003's) non-nutritional, unsatisfying crop of young male leads. Wendy Hiller's acting is always superb, and though she has a small part in 'Sailor of the King' she plays it with all her crackling, yet understated verve; Hiller's expressive, soulful eyes should have inspired the composition of a long, gorgeous symphony. Michael Rennie, another handsome and talented - and underappreciated - actor, gives a good effort too.
Though the plot is fictional, it doesn't matter a whit. 'Sailor Of The King' is a splendid adventure film, the likes of which "they just don't make anymore." This is the sort of film you can watch every six months, just for the pure joy of its congealing plot and the anxiety in its inspiring denouement. Pity 'Sailor Of The King' has not made it onto DVD.