WW II True Story of Saving Shipping from U-Boats off India
Forrest R. Hansen | Kirkland, WA | 12/20/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Gregory Peck, Roger Moore and David Niven are the lead actors in this true story having taken place in WW II in India and Goa. It is shot on location where it happened, giving great authenicity to the scenes and how they took place. I think just about every older English actor who has appeared in any war films is present here. This was one of the reasons I liked the film. A gathering of "old" friends in one place from the other films gives it credence as you know they are well trained, in a way. This is sort of like "The Wild Geese", same cast of characters in the support roles. The print of the film in 1.85 to 1 letterbox is of great quality. The surround sound works well. While the subject matter of getting the sinking of ships stopped is serious, there are many very funny spots as the older men of the Light Horse get geared up for war after 40 some years. There is one especially tender moment when David Niven is shaving at 5am and his wife is worried about another woman. Both Gregory Peck and Roger Moore play their respective characters believably. Not sure why they didn't check one character out............"
"Bill, we've got problems. The main bearing is overheating!"
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 11/25/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Sea Wolves has a number of problems, not just the main bearing. Andrew McLaglen directed the movie, a WWII adventure of spies and explosives set primarily in Goa's harbor. Three German merchant ships have been interned there, on the west coast of India. Suspiciously, Allied ships are being torpedoed in the area. Look for a German spy operation to learn British shipping schedules and routes; then a way to send that information to the merchant ship that has a transmitter; then a relay to waiting German subs. The British must take action...but Goa is Portuguese. That means neutral. So the Calcutta Light Horse, a part-time territorial unit that is proud of being part of the Raj is recruited. "They haven't seen action in 40 years. You're talking about a mixed bag of boozing, middle-aged, pot bellied businessmen," says a brigadier. "No argument," says Gregory Peck, playing Colonel Lewis Pugh, "but when the war started every man jack of them volunteered for active service." Their colonel is William Grice (David Niven). While Captain Gavin Stewart (Roger Moore) of British Special Secret Operations deals with the spies on land, Colonel Pugh, of British Secret Special Operations (or something like that), will lead the Light Horse to board and destroy the German ships.
McLaglen at his best turned out movies like The Wild Geese, The Devil's Brigade, Bandolero! and several of John Wayne's late middle age westerns. Many were reliable commercial hits, but without an original thought in any of them. They're all skillfully composed of clichés, manly joshing, scenic photography and action. The Sea Wolves might be worth its two hours, but the movie is strictly a professional, commercial and predictable enterprise.
Besides McLaglen's unimaginative commercial competence, The Sea Wolves suffers from its structure, and that means it suffers from its two leads. Peck was 64 and looks it. He undoubtedly was hired to sell tickets in the American market. His British accent varies between nonexistent to jarringly phony: "We're looking for awnsers" "We will keep to the shedjool." Roger Moore at 53 is beginning to need careful lighting to keep the illusion of being 10 years younger. He gives us only more of Moore, a smooth operator who dresses well, is always charming, and speaks smirking innuendo to the ladies. At one point Moore is shot in the elbow and still puts on his dinner jacket unassisted. You have to admire a man like that. Peck and Moore both try for the old English upper-class insouciance, gallantry-in-the-face-of-danger sort of thing. We wind up with a movie that for its first third is Peck and Moore together developing the plan, then Moore for the second third taking out spies, and then the last third with Peck leading the action to board and destroy.
As usual with McLaglen, there are some effective scenes...obtaining and putting in shape a rusting hulk that will transport the Light Horse to the German ships...a spy who prefers a knife to end discussions...the determination of Trevor Howard...one or two sad scenes that work...the final ten minutes which is all action. But then there is that awful stiff-upper-lip "English" dialogue written by Reginald Rose, an American. The Light Horse serves up at every opportunity quantities of manly joshing and kidding, seasickness and terrible cooking, and instant volunteering by each man for the most dangerous tasks. At two hours, however, the three-part story, sluggish pacing (especially with Moore's adventures), and Peck's accent drain away any consistent excitement.
David Niven at 70 is the only one of the three stars who seems quite at home with this sort of thing. The occasion, however, is sad. Niven already was showing signs of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, from which he would die three years later. The Sea Wolves also features a number of aging British actors playing members of the Light Horse. Although their dialogue, joshing and over-aged running about can make a person squirm in sympathy for them, it's still nice to see Trevor Howard, Terrence Longdon, Moray Watson, John Standing, Allan Cuthbertson, Percy Herbert and Donald Houston, as well as Patrick McNee.
The movie is subtitled "The Last Charge of the Calcutta Light Horse." It really happened. The DVD transfer looks fine. There are no extras."
Excellent and TRUE Last Hurrah for The Light Horse!
D. K. Hingle | the Middle of Kansas, United States | 10/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first saw this film on HBO. I tuned in because two long-time favourites (Roger Moore & Patrick Macnee) were listed. I watched it over several times, bought it on VHS, and now own it on DVD.
This is based on a true event in WWII, when the British were losing cargo to a U-Boat pack in the Indian Ocean. Since the problem stemmed from the neutral Portugese port of Goa, nothing 'official' could be done. The Calcutta Light Horse, a group of retired British military, are recruited to do the impossible, and pulled it off. The event was declassified in 1980, and the film was made. Most of the cast is portraying actual persons involved, as shown in the end credits.
To play the 'past prime' Light Horse members, the film recruited major names: David Niven, Trevor Howard, Kenneth Griffith, Morgan Sheppard, Patrick Allen, Glyn Houston, and a cadre of others you will know. The "thin on top, thick in the middle" troops are led by professional soldiers Gregory Peck, Roger Moore, and Patrick Macnee. Peck plays Col. Lewis Pugh, a colonel whose family was in Coventry when it was plastered by the Luftwaffe. Moore plays Capt. Gavin Stewart, a bit of a playboy who falls for local lovely spy Barbara Kellerman. Macnee plays Major "Yogi" Crossley, the explosives expert fond of reading the paper while standing on his head. All cast members are well up to the task. Most memorable of the supporting cast is Wilton who is charged with nursing the engines of their rather creaky craft. When told he has to stay on the ship rather than going aboard the target vessel, Wilton says: "Request permission to say, 'S--t' sir."
The fun is watching these men train for the mission; the suspense is watching them perform it. To a man, the whole Light Horse volunteered for the mission, despite knowing there was no pay, recognition, medals, or any form of compensation. With only one fatality, despite overwhelming odds and several casualties, they manage.
The only flaw of the film, for me, is Peck's British accent which is overdone when present and tends to fade in and out. Director Andrew McLaglen should have dispensed with it entirely. (MacLaglen also directed Moore in 'fflokes,' another offbeat role for The Saint whose name was Bond.)
Action, humour, romance, suspense - all based on a true story - this one has it all, including a title & credit sequences of the actual event.