The year before this film came out Robert Taylor's long term contract came to an end with MGM. His was the longest contract to a studio in film history. There was a clause in his release which gave MGM the option for two more films. With The House Of The Seven Hawks, Taylor did the first of his two films to fulfill that commitment.
It was a film like The House Of The Seven Hawks that probably made Robert Taylor think about television as a venue. It's a routine mystery adventure film that would have been done years earlier by MGM's B picture unit.
The House Of The Seven Hawks casts Taylor as an American expatriate running a charter schooner service over in Great Britain. A man charters Taylor's boat and asks him to take him to the Netherlands. On the way the man collapses and dies and upon identifying him through his ID as a Dutch police inspector, Taylor feels he's stepped in a nice bucket of fertilizer. Especially since he had no clearance to leave English waters.
Now the film would have been over if Taylor had simply left things untouched, but did his duty as a citizen and just reported the death. But no, he finds some cryptic directions taped to the dead man's abdomen and thinks there might be something in it for him. That got him into even a bigger mess involving a gang of former Nazis and a pair of beautiful women.
The villains in this film are taken right out of the Maltese Falcon with Eric Pohlman and David Kossoff doing their best as a pair of continental Greenstreet and Lorres. As for beautiful woman number one, Linda Christian is a gal working her own agenda the same way Mary Astor was doing. There are some elements in the story line that could have come from The Maltese Falcon.
Beautiful woman number two is Nicole Maurey, daughter of the dead police inspector who thinks Taylor might have done her father in for a while. Donald Wolfit is the Dutch police inspector who takes the case over from Nicole's dad and keeps a close tab on Taylor.
Stealing every scene he's in is professional informer Philo Hauser who makes a living at the art of the doublecross.
MGM did not even bother to invest The House Of The Seven Hawks with color cinematography. Certainly that would have captured some nice Dutch countryside.
The film was the sixth of seven films Robert Taylor did for director Richard Thorpe and the last one for they did for MGM. Seven films with the same director might normally qualify them as a screen team. Thorpe did three of Taylor's best heroic films, Ivanhoe, Knights Of The Round Table, and Quentin Durward. He also did from Taylor's halcyon days at MGM, The Crowd Roars and Tip On A Dead Jockey. They would team up again for Killers of Kilimanjaro, Taylor's next film which was released by Columbia. My guess is that Thorpe and Taylor were a compatible pair and that's why MGM assigned him Taylor's pictures.
Not even Robert Taylor's devoted fans would say this was one of his best roles. MGM was simply trying to work out a commitment and didn't invest much in The House Of The Seven Hawks. I'll bet the inducement of shooting in Europe and maybe taking along Ursula Thiess to visit her family on the continent was reason enough to do this film. And Taylor never balked too much at doing anything.
A European trip was a good enough reason for accepting any film offer. Still The House Of The Seven Hawks will never be ranked by anyone as one of Robert Taylor's top ten.
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