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Sea Wolves (1980)  

Review: written April 2009

Old Geezers Win The War With Stiff Upper Lip

Sea Wolves (1980)

This 1980 movie seemed to sit in between two generations of styles of war movie, and as a result seems to have fallen through the cracks of communal memory for many. It's a shame, as it's a decent movie; fun, doesn't take itself too seriously - but gripping enough to represent the factual story it depicts, and of course has a hugely entertaining cast clearly having a ball.

During WW II, an aging group of ex Boer War veterans, now forming a territorial style home guard in India known as the Calcutta Light Horse, are roped into action in a piece of skullduggery and sabotage on a German vessel which has become a thorn in the side of the Royal Navy. Unfortunately, it is in Goa, a neutral Portuguese port, and no regular military mission can be mounted, hence our aging heroes for whom the British government can maintain plausible deniability, spring into action.

Gregory Peck and Roger Moore are the military espionage string pullers who lead the operation, David Niven, Trevor Howard and a host of British character actors play the Calcutta Light Horse, and Patrick Macnee and Barbara Kellerman round out the stellar cast in other roles.

It's old fashioned movie making, Boys Own adventure style, with the pace and script not short on humour, but it's a serious war movie too, which relies more on the build-up and background than a climax, which may be disappointing in the action stakes to a modern movie audience. To be honest, most of the fun is in watching these actors on the screen together for one more time, before the 80's blockbusters thrust a new generation of actors and movie styles into the limelight.

John Glenn, veteran editor of many Bond movies, proficiently pieces together the action scenes to maximize tension, while experienced director Andrew McLaglen tries to walk a tightrope between historical re-enactment and big starring blockbuster... he makes a pretty good stab at it, but perhaps the end result may seem somewhat compromised for trying to keep a foot so firmly in both camps. Certainly the cinematography is uninspired workmanlike fare, and the costumes say more about 1980 than they do about 1943.

Don't nitpick though, it's good fun, with a cracking cast - I recommend it for an undemanding watch. Solid proponents of the MTV generation of movie making might want to stay clear.

Sea Wolves (1980)
Sea Wolves (1980)

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