Sailor of the King (1953)
The core part of this film makes for an entertaining story and it’s practically begging to be remade. I’m a bit surprised it already hasn’t.
Directed by Roy Boulting from a story by C.S. Forester, the main thrust of the film concerns a British ship during WW2 going down at sea after sustaining damage inflicted by a German vessel with larger guns captained by Peter Van Eyck. One of our survivors rescued by the German ship is none other than Jeffrey Hunter. The other is Bernard Lee who has sustained a nasty injury and resides himself to sitting out the rest of the war.
Hunter comes to realize that the ship he is now a p.o.w. on has suffered damage of it’s own and is in desperate need of repairs. Captain Van Eyck knows that he must find a secluded inlet to allow for his sailors to make the necessary repairs before the British Navy led by Admiral Michael Rennie lay siege to his command.
The action really picks up when Hunter steals away in the night with a rifle and ammunition taking up a position in the heights of a rocky cove that Van Eyck has found to quietly fix the gaping hole in the side of his ship. Shots ring out and unarmed German sailors die totally unaware of the imminent danger awaiting them from the rocks above. It’s a rather sobering scene. Hunter is of course doing his best for the war effort by delaying the ships repairs in order to let Rennie and the fleet close in.
With no water and a searing sun above, can Hunter hold out long enough from the elements and the canon fire being casually aimed in any direction throughout the truly scenic inlet captured here on film.
This black and white effort is book ended by a somewhat unbelievable subplot concerning Rennie and Wendy Hiller. Although it’s meant to tug at the heart strings it doesn’t hold up. But I’m not going to play spoiler here and ruin it. I will say that if you get a copy of the film on dvd, check out the alternate ending. I find it works better. It’s actually kind of rare for an alternate ending to turn up for a vintage film.
Rennie and Van Eyck have little to do overall but Jeffrey hunter is well suited to his role here as the young sharp shooter who is trying his best against all odds to keep the German ship at bay.
Worth a look to see Hunter in an early role and let me know what you think about the alternate ending if you have or get a chance to see it. And how about a remaking the central part of the story? I think it could make for a thrilling war time adventure.