stars in John Gilling's not-so-swashbuckling period smuggler
film. Cinema Club UK R2 DVD.
Gilling was one of the big names in British cinema between
and 70s, working first for Hammer, then independently, then again for
Hammer; he wrote, directed and even produced a variety of films, many
of them still regarded today, particularly Flesh and the Fiends
(1959) based on the exploits of real life Edinburgh grave robbers Burke
and Hare. After this film's sucess, Gilling elected to make his own
film - he wrote, directed and produced Fury at Smuggler's Bay,
and was shortly after re-employed by Hammer films to write and direct
several period action/adventure pieces.
The film opens in a
coastal town, it is the late 18th Century, and most of the local
community are involved in harmless smuggling; but a band of vicious wreckers
under Black John (Bernard Lee) is deliberately luring merchant ships
onto the rocks to loot them of their cargo. The local squire (Peter
Cushing) sends for troops from the Duke of Avon (Miles Malleson) to
track down the smugglers and the wreckers - on the journey, his stage
is held up by an honorable local highwayman known as The
troops capture a group of the local smugglers, and with Black John as
the chief witness, the Squire (acting very suspiciously) sentences them
to deportation. The Squire's son, Christopher is in love with the
daughter of one of the men; she confers with The Captain
and they come up with a plan to rescue the men before they are
deported, and to stop Black John's reign of terror. But they face
problems while the truth
behind the Squire's actions come to light...
Written and directed by John
Gilling, Fury at
Smuggler's Bay suffers
from a poor script and unimpressive direction. Although the basic plot
and idea of the film is solid, the details don't make a lot of sense. The Captain is an
enigmatic Robin-Hood type figure, who suddenly appears as the film's
hero about half-way through the picture, his raison d'Ítre
is never actually outlined, he just lives in a camp in the hills. The
blackmail that the squire is being held under hardly seems worthy for
him to consider sacrificing his son. The number of times someone is
saved from being shot, beaten up etc. by someone else who 'just
happens' to have turned up, is quite ridiculous by the film's end.
Ultimately, the pacing is acceptable, and the film at least boasts a
direction is decent, but his use of heavily blue tinted day-for-night
photography for the nighttime scenes is very obvious and annoying, it
is often very hard to make out what is going on. Although the
film's obviously limited budget means that we never actually see any
wrecking, and the shots on the ships are all-too-brief - on the plus
side, the sets and costumes look good, as do the locations - quite
authentic. The music is a standard Hammer-like score and backs the film
well except in one scene - an ambush by The Captain's men on Black
John's is accompanied by a 'comedy' soundtrack that makes the sequence
play like a spoof scene, and destroys the serious atmosphere that most
the picture has.
Cushing gives a very limited performance as the Squire, although the
character is mostly limited to some defensive speeches and dialogue,
not giving Cushing much chance to act; his screen-time, compared to his
Hammer horror films, is distinctly minimal. Bernard Lee looks
suitably villanous, but William Franklyn doesn't look dashing enough as
John Fraser is unimpressive as the squire's son. Watch out for Miles
Malleson in a typcially eccentric role as the Duke of Avon.
pirate films, Fury at
Smuggler's Bay is
similarly afflicted by its budget induced lack of ship action. Although
boasting an interesting central concept, it is poorly executed
the direction is flat, and even Peter Cushing is unable to save the
film. Not a recommended watch, worth a
rental/TV viewing for Cushing fans perhaps.
famous in it?
- Hammer Horror mainstay and star of their similar but superior Captain Clegg
(1962). Bernard Lee -
Soon to become famous as M in the early James Bond films.
by anyone interesting?
John Gilling - writer and
director of factually based Flesh
and the Fiends (1959) and Hammer's adventure
Scarlet Blade (1963) and Pirates of Blood River
recommended, only for Peter Cushing or British cinema completists.
Hammer-like orchestral score, although marred by a 'comedy' soundtrack
in some scenes.
Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1 widescreen. Anamorphically enhanced. Colour.
The disc is average visually, good colours (although the blue
day-for-night scenes are very dark) minimal print damage is
evident but there is a lot of grain and the image is slightly soft.
The cheap widescreen lenses used on this film mean that the edges of
the picture are slightly distorted throughout, this dates from the
original print and is not a problem with the disc.
language mono sound.
No real problems with the audio.
Feature: 1hr 22m 12s
2 (UK, Europe) - PAL
1961, the film was submitted to the BBFC with a run-time of 98 minutes,
the status of these missing scenes is unknown.
sub-par film; an unimpressive script, unexciting production values and
a limited performance from Peter Cushing, not recommended.
of the film, print probably looks as good as it ever did. Total lack of