HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Picture Stories
Another Round
Tape, The
Limbo
Supernova
Man Who Sold His Skin, The
Sweetheart
No Man of God
Gaia
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
Scenes with Beans
Sweat
Quiet Place Part II, A
Nobody
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Duel to the Death
Mandibles
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Yakuza Princess
Djinn, The
New Order
Triggered
Claw
Original Cast Album: Company
Martyrs Lane
Paper Tigers, The
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The
Hall
ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt, The
Collini Case, The
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, The
Superhost
Plan A
When I'm a Moth
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Misha and the Wolves
Yellow Cat
Shorta
Knocking
   
 
Newest Articles
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
   
 
  When Eight Bells Toll Anthony Hopkins as action hero
Year: 1971
Director: Étienne Périer
Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Robert Morley, Jack Hawkins, Corin Redgrave, Nathalie Delon, Ferdy Mayne, Maurice Roëves, Derek Bond, Peter Arne, Oliver MacGreevy, Wendy Allnut, Tom Chatto
Genre: Action, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  0 Votes
Review: In 1971 it looked as though a franchise for a new screen hero was up for grabs. Sean Connery had returned as James Bond for Diamonds are Forever, but this time it was definitely “never again” ('never' being 1983, as it turned out). With the Bond series on the verge of apparently fizzling out, it was time to bring a new character to audiences. [Please note now, this review has whopping spoilers.]

Enter Philip Calvert (Anthony Hopkins), a Royal Navy diving expert with a huge working-class chip on his shoulder, useless at desk work but unequalled in the field. In this case the 'field' is the Inner Seas off the West Coast of Scotland, where ships carrying gold bullion have been hijacked and disappeared without trace. Calvert is recommended to investigate by an old friend, Roy Hunslet (Corin Redgrave). Hunslet is excellent at desk work but useless in the field, so they make a good team (some have seen a homosexual subtext in their relationship, maybe because Hunslet makes good cocoa and nurses Calvert's injuries). Overseeing the investigation is Sir Anthony Arnford-Jones (Robert Morley at his most petulant) who sees Calvert as a: “terrible fellow... from a Northern grammar school”.

Calvert's plan is to plant two friendly agents in the crew of the next bullion ship, the 'Nantesville', to report anything untoward to Calvert and Hunslet, who will shadow the ship disguised as marine biologists. When they aren't heard from, Calvert slips aboard the ship and finds both men dead. He unravels the mystery by bucking authority, overcoming the shifty, mumbling locals, disobeying orders and generally raising hell, leading to an action climax in the villains' hideaway.

If the producers did hope for a Calvert series, they were disappointed. The film did poor box-office, and James Bond returned in the form of Roger Moore. When Eight Bells Toll stands as a single story and, on the whole, it's a very good effort. It offers plenty of action and a solid story (Alistair MacLean scripted, based on his own novel). Its downsides were a rather dour hero (“I don't have any friends,” Anthony Hopkins says at one point. I knew I'd heard that line from Quantum of Solace somewhere before) and a lack of 'glamour' expected from spy flicks.

Instead of sipping martinis in the Bahamas, Calvert is swimming in the frigid waters around the Hebrides under grey skies in a gale. The locations for the film are one of its great strengths and are very well used. There is some excellent aerial photography of swirling seas and rugged coastline by Arthur Ibbetson. This brings a gritty, physical reality to the film which is more involving for the audience than the glossy locations of the Bond series.

The supporting cast is good and generally provide distinctive characters. Corin Redgrave is a solid sidekick and acts as the film's 'sacrificial lamb'. The image of his body being winched out of the sea attached to an anchor chain is one of the film's strongest moments. Hopkins and Morley spark well off each other, one a rampant snob, the other disdainful of the 'upper' classes. They reach a grudging mutual respect as the action unfolds, which is handled well by both actors. Jack Hawkins plays the red herring villain as well as he can after losing his larynx to cancer a few years before (Charles Gray speaks his lines).

The female villainess/sex interest comes off worst. Is she a good-girl-gone-bad, or just a mercenary bitch? We are never really told, and all Nathalie Delon can do with her part is be insouciante and moue in that familiar French manner. (The secondary female character played by Wendy Allnut gets a chance to show British girls can be sexy in their own way, and does it very well.)

When discussing his films, Alfred Hitchcock used to talk about 'the plausibles' – those slightly outrageous twists an audience will accept because it is willing to be entertained. This film has its share. When boarding the Nantesville, Calvert is faced by a man holding a pistol, he freezes for a few seconds, tension builds, but... the guy is dead, stabbed in the back while sitting with his back to a wall. Presumably the villains propped him in a chair with a gun just in case someone came snooping round in the night, but it makes for a few moments of genuine tension. Why do the villains shoot Calvert's helicopter out of the sky? He had found nothing, and even if they killed him it would only lead to more enquiries. Well, it is followed by an excellent sequence of Calvert fighting for his life underwater. As for a thug's death looking like an accident? Only if he stood for a minute cutting his own airline, but it capped a great fight scene.

The film is very good entertainment and a welcome change from the glossy, Teflon Bonds of the same era. Calvert makes a very human hero, not invulnerable but very resourceful and not to be diverted from completing his mission. The final freeze-frame of his silhouette against the skyline emphasises he is a man alone. It is somehow fitting that his film incarnation is itself a one-off.
Reviewer: Enoch Sneed

 

This review has been viewed 3316 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: