DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

A HIGH WIND IN JAMAICA (director: Alexander Mackendrick; screenwriters: novel by Richard Hughes/Stanley Mann/Ronald Harwood/Dennis Cannan; cinematographer: Douglas Slocombe; editor: Derek York; music:  Larry Adler; cast: Nigel Davenport (Frederick Thornton), Isabel Dean (Mrs. Thornton), Deborah Baxter (Emily Thornton), Anthony Quinn (Capt. Chavez), James Coburn (Zac), Dennis Price (Mathias), Ben Carruthers (Alberto),  Lila Kedrova (Rosa), Gert Frobe (Dutch Captain), Brian Phelan (Curtis), Kenneth J. Warren (Capt. Marpole), Viviana Ventura (Margaret), Martin Amis (John Thornton), Karen Flack  (Laura Thornton), Henry Beltran (Harry Thornton), Jeff Chandler (Edward Thornton), Roberta Tovey (Rachel Thornton), Kenji Takaki  (Cook), Maude Fuller (Josephine); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: John Croydon; Fox Home Video; 1965)

"A rarely seen gem that has slipped by the public unnoticed, though receiving great reviews."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A rarely seen gem that has slipped by the public unnoticed, though receiving great reviews. It's based on the popular and acclaimed novel by Richard Hughes published in 1929. Alexander Mackendrick ("Don't Make Waves"/"Sweet Smell of Success"/"The Ladykillers") adroitly helms his highly entertaining penultimate film in color and with beautiful visuals. The exciting buccaneering adventure film is set in the 19th century. It's written by Stanley Mann, Ronald Harwood and Dennis Cannan, who lightly blend together pirates and seven kidnapped children into melodrama and comedy.

The British Thornton family, the father and mother (Nigel Davenport & Isabel Dean), after living through a scary damaging hurricane in the Jamaica of the 1870s, decide to send their brood of unruly children by boat to attend school in Victorian England. But they are captured by the Spanish pirate Captain Chavez (Anthony Quinn) and his loyal first mate business partner Zac (James Coburn). Because the mainly Spanish crew is a superstitious lot about kids on their boat, Chavez is thinking of dumping them off at some port. But the innocent kids amuse him and he delays any action. He also falls for the oldest girl Emily (Deborah Baxter), and treats her like a princess.

In the port of Tampico, the pirates can relate to the kid's parents in not being able to control the playful trusting kids. Meanwhile the crew becomes mutinous over the inaction by their captain, which leaves the sentimental captain at odds with the more practical Zac--the children's surrogate parents. While the kids wander around the port unattended an unfortunate incident occurs involving Emily, and that leads to an unpredictable ending.

Mackendrick examines the wide gulf between childhood innocence and adult guilt, and observes that the children through their unblemished innocence have curiously gotten the upper hand over their captors.

REVIEWED ON 1/4/2015       GRADE: A-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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