Rock Hudson plays a smuggler/fisherman who falls hard for Yvonne De Carlo and gets lured into helping her get to France a number of times, all for different reasons.
First he thinks he’s helping her save her imprisoned brother, and When he discovers her sob story was just that and she’s really a countess helping Napoleon plan invasion Hudson kidnaps and takes her to authorities. But think again! She’s actually an English spy pretending to strategize with Nappy so she can relay info back home. You can’t blame Hudson for having a bit of whiplash and being both intrigued and skeptical about anything De Carlo.
I was expecting more excitement and verve from a Raoul Walsh picture, but they can’t all be great (as this coincidentally timed review of Mike’s on Walsh’s Distant Drums discusses). Though it isn’t a top notch swashbuckler movie, I still was kept interested enough to prevent me from declaring it a bore. The full cast all doing good work goes a way toward making the story shortcomings tolerable (written by Borden Chase who brought us Red River and Winchester ’73 to name only a few). 1953 vintage De Carlo and Hudson make a gorgeous and playful couple, with her being all secretive, then fire and indigence and increasingly attracted to Hudson, while he’s all brawn, cocky and sure of himself and irresistibly drawn to her. Support is provided by Bryan Forbes as Hudson’s loyal sidekick who constantly shakes his head over where a woman has led them; Maxwell Reed as a rival pirate who first backstabs, then has to cooperate, with Denis O’Dea and Michael Goodliffe rounding out the conspirators on De Carlo’s side.
The colour is nice, the scenery is good, De Carlo gets quite a few action scenes as she repeatedly has rush back the scheduled meetings and undo the damage done by well-meaning Hudson. It’s not a total loss, just one of those times where you realize you’re not riding in a fancy car but considering who’s at the wheel you’re certain to get from A to B– resolve to just enjoy the scenery. (As soon as this was done I cued up another pirate movie that I enjoyed a lot more– but that’s for next review).