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  • bkoganbing5 February 2010
    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.
  • "The House of Seven Hawks" would have been much better had it been produced by Robert Taylor's old employer, MGM.

    Instead, the film turned out to be quite a disappointment for Taylor, a man who had been a major star for two decades. I will say this; the opening is quite intriguing. Taylor's character agrees to transport a man from England to the Continent by boat, and does so. After arrival, however, he soon discovers that this simple business deal is quite a bit more complicated than what he expected.

    Sadly, the film does not take advantage of this clever opening. From that point on, it is rather routine.

    As others have suggested, this ends up being a rather lackluster B effort not close to the level of the films Taylor made for MGM. In that regard, this movie is similar to the 1959 efforts of Alan Ladd, a man whose great success in the 1940s and early 1950s was followed by some very mediocre productions. (In Ladd's case, the actor himself was largely to blame due to very poor judgment regarding choice of film projects.)

    My admiration for Robert Taylor has grown over time. He was a better actor than many gave him credit for. (I recommend his performances in "Bataan" and "Johnny Eager.") Sadly, this particular movie, though watchable, did nothing to enhance his reputation.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This sort of film could only have been made late in Robert Taylor's career. That's because under the old studio system, he was one of MGM's stars and the pictures they put him in were all very well written and produced. "The House of the Seven Hawks", in contrast, is not particularly well written or produced and shows just how far Taylor's career had sunk after he finally left MGM. Although this film was distributed by MGM, it was made by a crappy old film company in the UK and Holland--a far cry from his fancified MGM roots.

    In this film, Taylor plays a schooner captain who is willing, when needed, to skirt British law. In this case, a Dutch undercover policeman offers to pay Taylor the then princely sum of 500 pounds to sneak him into Holland--and Taylor has no idea he's a cop. However, on the way, the man is found dead in his bunk--seemingly from a heart attack. When he reports this death to Dutch officials, he is taken into custody. After all, the authorities want to know why this man was trying to sneak back in the country. In addition, suddenly Taylor has acquired some 'friends' who also are very curious about what has happened not only to the dead man but some key he supposedly had on him or some mysterious overlay.

    All in all, the film has only a moderately engaging plot and is very low energy. As a result, it just plods along until it ultimately ends. Nothing fancy or special about this one--just a journeyman performance by an actor who deserved better.
  • An entertaining movie, not great, but OK. At one point, I felt like the screenplay was written with a cast of Humphrey Bogart, Sidney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre in mind, but instead, they got Robert Taylor, Eric Pohlmann, and David Kossoff. That point was when the characters Rohner and Dekker were explaining the situation to Nordley. It reminded me of The Maltese Falcon hotel room scene where Greenstreet likes "talking to a man who likes to talk".
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I enjoyed watching this film as I am a big fan of film moire. It is what in a book I would call a page turner. The actors are good their craft, the setting in beautiful. It contains sailing and captains, I am a sailor. My father grew up in Holland and I have visited there just love the country. I like the number of twists in the plot, it kept me wanting to see what's next, then what's next and the double of a role of one of the character was a good technique. The only slightly negative thing I noticed about the film was the plot seemed to be a bit of a veiled cover of "The Maltese Falcon". That movie came out in 1946, and this one in 1959. I don't why that was. Since it is set "across the pond" perhaps the author sold the rights twice. Or the movie producers used their rights twice. Or it is just a remake. Otherwise, bottom line, I enjoyed it and would recommend checking it out.
  • This movie just doesn't have the most exciting or best mystery-elements around. It's a rather dull movie that lacks most of the required genre elements. Although it tries in parts- this is no film-noir but even for a 'standard' thriller type of movie this one just isn't good enough.

    The story isn't the most interesting one around but it's even worse how the story is told. Some of the sequences go on for far too long, without anything interesting happening in it. Problem is that the story felt the need to put in way too much (redundant) dialog. Guess that they just desperately tried to make the movie longer, since it's a quite short one (92 minutes). The movie really isn't build up well and in the beginning it's too unclear were the movie is trying to head to.

    The movie picks some weird and unbelievable plot-lines. Besides that, the movie also doesn't offer any real surprises. It's pretty clear from the beginning on who are going to be the good and bad guys and gals of the movie.

    It's true that the movie gets better toward the end but it's all too late to still fully save the movie. In its build up the movie simply lacks all the things needed to make a good and tense genre movie with. For a thriller this movie is just too dull and totally not interesting enough to follow. The characters all remain too flat and the only established actor in this movie is Robert Taylor, who does his very best but just can't carry this movie on his own. I mean this movie is not even good or really interesting to watch for the most hardened Robert Taylor fans.

    For me it was a big plus that the movie is set and actually filmed- and almost entirely set in The Netherlands. It was all very recognizable. It's locations and atmosphere works well for the movie, although it's too bad that they didn't made the trouble to cast Dutch actors in the roles of Dutch, not even for the bit parts, which was a bit distracting but obviously only should be so when you're Dutch yourself.

    By no means the worst genre movie I've ever seen but just not among one of the best or most refreshingly original ones either. Somewhat watchable but not really recommendable to anyone.

    5/10

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  • Warning: Spoilers
    House of the Seven Hawks was released in December 1959, when its star, Robert Taylor, was forty-eight years old. It is a mystery based on Victor Canning's best selling book, House of the Seven Flies. The plot concerns John Nordley, an American ex-pat who lives in Britain and runs a charter boat. Captain Nordley is flung into a convoluted situation involving dead policemen, ex-Nazis, scheming women, creepy crooks and innocent daughters.

    The New York Times called the movie "a satisfying labyrinthine plot and carefully placed direction and underplaying that adds up to a modest but truly taut and absorbing diversion." The director is Richard Thorpe, who had worked with Taylor before in six other movies, including The Crowd Roars, Ivanhoe and Knights of the Round Table.

    Despite being basically a suspense film House of the Seven Hawks has a considerable comic undertone. Robert Taylor plays Nordley as the only sane man in a nest of loonies. No one is what they are supposed to be, with people assuming false identities and numerous double-crosses.

    Other than Taylor, the cast is European. Nicole Maurey plays the love interest. Linda Christian is a one of the double-crossers. Donald Wolfitt and Gerard Heinz are policemen. David Kossoff, Eric Pohlmann and Philo Hauser are villains. The story ends with a diving expedition to recover stolen treasure and a satisfying shoot-out.

    I'm not sure Robert Taylor took this movie terribly seriously. He wears the same costume throughout the film, including an Eisenhower jacket that he had made for himself. He does a little mugging, especially when Nordley is being asked to believe one fantastic lie after another. Far from being wooden, he displays considerable facial flexibility. Mr. Taylor does look as though he's having fun.

    MGM seems to be insisting that Mr. Taylor is much younger than his actual age. Nicole Maurey is too young for him. He is referred to in one scene as a young man. As in so many films the story gets him out of his clothes. The Taylor body is in good shape for a 48 year old, but it's not the body he had twenty years earlier. Nonetheless this film provides good, undemanding and ultimately satisfying entertainment.
  • SnoopyStyle3 February 2020
    John Nordley (Robert Taylor) sails his boat out of the British port of Baymouth. The authorities suspects him of smuggling to foreign ports. He is hired by older Dutch gentleman Anselm. Anselm surprises him with the destination of Holland without the authorities' knowledge but with a large payment. Anselm dies in his sleep. Upon arriving in Holland, Nordley is met by Anselm's daughter who quickly rummages through the dead body. Nordley had already hidden away the money and other stuff and she finds nothing. At the port, he is met by the police who takes him into custody. The dead man turns out to be police inspector Sluiter and his daughter Constanta was not the one who got on his boat.

    This is a B-movie trying to be a cheap Hitchcock thriller. Taylor is treating the situation too lightly. The humor is too slight. I do like the starting premise but the story doesn't build tension. Taylor never lets on that he's in danger. The characters are mostly one dimensional. I would like for the two women to look a lot different. This is an easy thriller and it needs more tension.
  • The House of the Seven Hawks is an adaptation of Victor Canning's novel, The House of the Seven Flies. Richard Thorpe directs and it stars Robert Taylor, Nicole Maurey, Linda Christian, Donald Wolfit, David Kossoff and Eric Pohlmann. Music is by Clifton Parker and cinematography by Edward Scaife.

    It's a film that looks tired and cheap, the plot for what it's worth pitches Taylor as a sea dog type captain involved with criminals, the law, pretty ladies and hidden treasure. Those elements should have made for a riveting mystery, sadly that is not the case. Taylor looks bored but still manages to give off a presence and a nice line in wry humour, while the Dutch locations deserve a better film. But ultimately there's a reason why this is a little known Taylor movie, it's poor and just one for us Taylor completists to tick off of our list. 5/10
  • This is a good 'rainy afternoon film'. It is harmless, entertaining and well made. It was directed by old pro Richard Thorpe. Robert Taylor plays an independent sailboat owner based on the southern coast of England (with the script explaining why he is an American) who 'takes people where they want to go'. One day a mysterious man with a briefcase who calls himself Mr. Anselm books his boat for a coastal tour. After setting out, he says he wants instead to go to a port in the Netherlands. Taylor is not supposed to do foreign trips without permission from his harbour master, but as he is offered a substantial amount of money by the man (whose briefcase is stuffed with cash), he agrees. The man says he is Dutch and hence does not normally get seasick, but on this occasion he says he does not feel well at all, and goes to lie down in his cabin. Later when Taylor takes him a cup of tea, he finds the man lying dead on his bed. We later discover that he has been murdered by someone tampering with his insulin supply before boarding, as he was a diabetic. Taylor uses the little key hanging round the man's neck on a chain to open the briefcase, and takes the cash owing to him, leaving the rest intact and shutting the briefcase. In using the key, he accidentally discovers that the man has taped to his chest, under his shirt, a small envelope containing a little hand-drawn map. He puts it back and goes back on deck, to steer into the Dutch harbour. Before he can get there, however, a pretty girl comes up in a small motorboat saying that she is the dead man's daughter. Taylor breaks the news to her and she says she wants to look at her father, and goes down below. Taylor follows her after a while and finds her ransacking the cabin, looking urgently for something. She has pried open the briefcase and is searching everywhere. She runs away, gets back in her boat and goes back into the harbour. Taylor looks and sees that the map is still taped to the man's chest, and that she has missed it. He takes it and hides it in his private stowaway with his gun. He later discovers that the girl was an impostor and was not the dead man's daughter at all. The intrigue deepens as Taylor is taken into custody by the Dutch police and removed to the Hague, where a senior Dutch police inspector is played by a gruff Donald Wolfit. He informs Taylor that the dead man was really a Mr Sluiter, who was head of the Hague Police Force. He had made a secret trip to England as part of a confidential investigation. The plot thickens and thickens and thickens, with villains turning up, some unctuous and rich, some thuggish. The fake daughter gets murdered, and there is menace all around. David Kossof is particularly brilliant as a supporting actor, playing a character named Willem Dekker. He adds a great deal of liveliness to the film. This is all good fun and well recommended.
  • Very disappointing.Taylor was a very good looking man which netted him a good career in Hollywood and this film at least showed that he could swim! His acting ability did'nt amount to much but this film made no demands in that department.