In 1870, a Jamaican colonial family sends its children to Britain for proper schooling but their ship is taken over by pirates who become fond of the kids.In 1870, a Jamaican colonial family sends its children to Britain for proper schooling but their ship is taken over by pirates who become fond of the kids.In 1870, a Jamaican colonial family sends its children to Britain for proper schooling but their ship is taken over by pirates who become fond of the kids.
Curiously enough, half the film is actually spoken in Spanish (without the benefit of English subtitles!) - and, while it tends to wander because of this, also gives the proceedings a welcome air of full-blooded vividness! Anthony Quinn is his usual larger-than-life self, but his befuddled interaction with the kids endears him to viewers even more here. James Coburn is very amusing as Quinn's second-in-command, who can't speak a word of Spanish and is often at a loss as to what is going on around him (though I would have liked some form of an explanation as to his incongruous presence there). Dennis Price has a notable cameo towards the very end as a solicitor leeringly prying into the children's 'experience' with the pirates, while "guest star" Gert Frobe only appears in one crucial scene as a wounded Dutch captain (but who eventually has a huge bearing on the plot resolution); the film also features Nigel Davenport as the children's father and Lila Kedrova as a 'tavern-keeper'.
The opening hurricane sequence - which gives the film (and the novel it is based on) its title - is extremely well done, though the climactic courtroom sequence and its outcome (the willful execution of the pirates) is rather too rushed to be as effective as it needs to be. The antics of the children, of English and Spanish origins, are fun to watch - but Deborah Baxter leaves the best impression, as she is the one to bond most with Quinn. Larry Adler's lovely score subtly accentuates Douglas Slocombe's colorful widescreen imagery.
Alexander Mackendrick was an American-born/Scotland-bred director who made his name at Britain's famed Ealing Studios and went on to have a very brief but often brilliant career; this was actually his penultimate work. Incidentally, the two films of his I've yet to watch - MANDY (1952) and SAMMY GOING SOUTH (1963) - also feature children as their protagonists.
- Apr 4, 2007