31 December 2008 | Bunuel1976
SEA DEVILS (Raoul Walsh, 1953) **1/2
After a bit of trial-and-error, I managed to acquire a workable copy (unlike another Rock Hudson vehicle in the same vein, CAPTAIN LIGHTFOOT !) of this swashbuckler set in the Napoleonic era with the Emperor himself played by Frenchman Gerard Oury; incidentally, I had intended to close off 2008 by revisiting the latter's most popular directorial effort i.e. the WWII farce DON'T LOOK NOW WE'RE BEING SHOT AT! (1966), but had to forego it due to time constraints!
While I can't say that SEA DEVILS is very well-regarded within the genre (Leonard Maltin dismisses it with a :star::star: rating), in spite of the revered Walsh's involvement, I have to admit that I rather enjoyed it. Hudson is an impetuous rum-shipper, flanked by an amusingly grumpy Bryan Forbes, who's constantly clashing with rival Maxwell Reed; their quarrel comes to a head when they involve a woman (Yvonne De Carlo) whose activities as a spy, however, are jeopardized when Hudson misconstrues the situation! De Carlo's contribution here is far more engaging than when she played the BUCCANEER'S GIRL (1950), which I watched earlier in the month; for the record, she and Hudson had already been teamed for SCARLET ANGEL (1952), yet another costumer but which I'm not familiar with.
By the way, despite American leads, director and studio (RKO), this is a British-made effort with typically reliable supporting cast (including Dennis O'Dea as De Carlo's superior and Michael Goodliffe as her contact in France) and production values (ensuring stunning color photography throughout and a suitably rousing score). As expected, then, we get plenty of action and intrigue spiced with equally obligatory bouts of romance and comedy relief; the result hardly makes for a classic film but, in this agreeable company, it's perhaps more satisfying than such hokum has a right to be!