John Temple-Smith for Hammer, Major Pictures
directed by Peter Graham Scott
starring Peter Cushing, Yvonne Romain, Patrick Allen, Oliver Reed, Michael Ripper, Martin Benson, David Lodge, Derek Francis, Daphne Anderson, Milton Reid, Jack MacGowran, Terry Scully, Sydney Bromley, Peter Halliday, Rupert Osborne, Gordon Rollings, Bob Head, Colin Douglas, Gerry Crampton, Harold Gee
screenplay by Anthony Hinds (as John Elder), additional dialogue by Barbara S.Harper, based on the novel Dr.Syn by Russell Thorndike, music by Don Banks, special effects by Les Bowie, musical direction: Philip Martell
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A little English village at the Channel is flourishing excluxively
thanks to smuggling goods from France into the country - much to the
dismay of the inland revenue, who eventually send a platoon of soldiers
led by Captain Collier (Patrick Allen) to investigate and bring all the
smugglers to justice ... but understandably, the soldiers are welcomed
with dismay by the villagers, all but the kind-hearted reverend Blyss
(Peter Cushing) and the local Squire Cobtree (Derek Francis), who is
totally oblivious to all the smuggling going on.
However the soldiers are not able to find the slightest of traces of
the contraband goods they suspect in the village - simply because the
whole operation is way too well-organized thanks to a system of secret
catacombs under the village, a legend about the Marsh Phantoms the
smugglers have adopted to scare off strangers, and innocent-looking
sentinels placed all over the surroundings to make sure the soldiers do
not make a move the smugglers don't know about. And who has organized it
Mild-mannered reverend Blyss, that's who, who can be quite cruel and
cold-hearted to those who oppose him and who is really the infamous and
thought dead pirate Captain Clegg.
After much to and fro that involves amongst others a love story between
Clegg's daughter Imogene (Yvonne Romain) and the Squire's son (Oliver
Reed) and a treacherous innkeeper (Martin Benson), and the opening of
Clegg's rave only to find it empty, Blyss is eventually identified as
Clegg by the Mulatto (Milton Reid) - a man whom he once left to die
on a dessert island with his tongue cut out and his ears cut - and can
only just escape the soldiers with the help of coffinmaker Mipps (Michael
Ripper) - but the Mulatto wants vengeance quite badly and ultimately hurls
a deadly spear into Mipps' direction, which Clegg catches instead, saving
his friend by giving his own life ...
Captain Clegg is a nice film, no doubt, the acting is almost
uniformly great, the sets are convincing enough for a period picture of
this scale, and it's totally atmospheric no doubt ... yet the film is also
far from great, the script is somewhat incoherent and lacks proper pace,
the whole Marsh Phantom subplot seems a bit silly, the love story
is rather on the cheesy side ... and the film seems way too indecisive
about the titular character, who is at times a loving father and caring
man, at other times a ruthless criminal, two extremes that just don't go
together (but of course, thanks to Peter Cushing's talents, the character
comes to life nevertheless).
Actually, you will probably kind of like this film, just provided you
don't expect too much ...
Previously, Russell Thorndike's source novel was filmed as Doctor Syn