Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. (1951)

Written by John Chard on September 25, 2014

Beat To Quarters!

It's fun, it's exciting, and it looks fabulous at times, it is however far from being a great movie. In the absence of Errol Flynn, Gregory Peck steps in to Hornblower's shoes and as much as he gives it his all (rumoured to have been one of his favourite performances), it's a spot of miscasting that thankfully doesn't kill the picture dead, he's just sadly a tad too straight laced to really make the role work. The same can be said for the casting of Virginia Mayo as Lady Barbara Wellesley, pretty as she is, it's an odd bit of casting that never quite comes off, yet as daft as it may sound, neither case of miscasting hurts the picture, and this comes down to the astute direction from Raoul Walsh.

The pace never flags so we are never over concerned with the central actors struggles to make the characters work, backed up by Guy Green's camera work and Robert Farnon's jaunty score, the technical aspects of the piece steer the viewer on to safe waters (ahem). The sets are excellent and the recreation of the ships is first rate, with the final quarter of the movie giving us a blood pumping battle that's full of heroic bluster. It's a film that is easily recommended to adventure fans, though far from perfect and it remains a wasted opportunity in my eyes, but it's still a very enjoyable film for all the family. 6/10