22 March 2019 | Lejink
Captain, my captain
I was slightly surprised to see that this Ross Hunter-produced, Douglas Sirk-directed, Rock Hudson-starring film was one which didn't examine the morals and behaviour of 50's American society as did later films like "Written On The Wind", "All That Heaven Allows" and "Magnificent Obsession".
Still, swashbucklers were all the rage in the mid-50's and guys have got to eat, so once you check your original expectations at the door, just sit back and enjoy this sumptuously colourful CinemaScope production filmed entirely on location in Ireland. I've read other reviews trying to attach significance to the sub-plots of treachery and informants back to Sirk's time in pre-war Germany, but I doubt very much that entered his mind.
No, this just looks to me like a relaxed, comfortable location shoot with an easy to follow story with stock characters and situations and, if anything, looks like Sirk trying out Rock Hudson as a leading man for future projects. Hudson plays Michael Martin, later re-christened Captain Lightfoot, a rebellious young Irishman drawn to the nationalist cause against the occupying English in Regency times. Less attracted to the visible, passive resistance, his mercurial nature is instead fired by the exploits of the mysterious Captain Thunderbolt, a local dignitary by day but who by night clandestinely engineers raids to strike back on behalf of his countrymen. Unsurprisingly he has a pretty young daughter who whilst initially resistant to Martin's brusque charms, inevitably succumbs to him, throwing over a conventional rival in the process.
I love a good swashbuckler but this is isn't really in the top echelon. For one thing, all the action is done with guns rather than swords, so reducing the excitement quotient and there's no real out and out baddie to counterpoint the two bold captains. You'd also have to say that Rock isn't really cut out to be an action hero a la Flynn or Power, lacking their dynamism and athleticism plus his attempt at an Irish accent frequently takes a dip in the Atlantic Ocean.
All the same, it's an entertaining story, shot in lush, verdant greens and ochres. While it does looks very much like a contractual assignment, it's pretty to look at and undemanding to watch. Consider it an example of an artist like Sirk, testing out his colour palette on his way to creating his later masterpieces.