a small village on the south English coast, a community is involved in
smuggling alcohol across from France under the noses of the King's
revenue collectors. From the local Vicar, Dr. Blyss (Peter Cushing) to
Jeremiah Mipps the coffin maker (Michael Ripper) and Mr. Rash the
inkeeper, everyone in the town is involved in the smuggling, so when a
detachment of the Navy arrive under Capt. Collier (Patrick Allen)
they have to do the best they can to avoid being caught - but Collier
is smart and very suspicious.
Based on the Dr. Syn stories by Russell Thorndike, the script, from Hammer co-owner Anthony Hinds (credited, as usual, as John
Elder) manages to provide an entirely land based smuggling and pirate
story that covers up the relative lack of budget. The story boasts a
good mix of characters and strong characterisation, and although the
smugglers are the 'heros', there is no black and white distinction and
most of the characters are more anti-hero than hero. Although
Hammer were sucessful in making adventure films, they were best known
for horror and to add a touch of horror to the story, the film plays up
the Night Riders from the novels into the scary, skeletal Marsh
Graham Scott was a one shot Hammer director and performs decently well
here, giving the film a good mix of camerawork and bringing a realistic
and occasionally scary atmosphere to the production. Don Bank's
soundtrack is typical Hammer orchestral and suits the film fine.
Cushing was one of Hammer's biggest names, although already inexorably
associated with the gothic horror, he had started to work in Hammer's
other projects, with an interesting performance in the studio's Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960) and their dark crime thriller Cash on Demand
(1961). He gives a typically outstanding performance here as the vicar
Dr. Blyss and really suits the role. A young Oliver Reed plays the
squire's son - after his first credited role in Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960) he quickly rose to starring roles with an impressive performance in The Curse of the Werewolf
(1961) - he gets a relatively minor role here, but plays it well. The
rest of the cast are decent with a few familiar faces, Patrick Allen as
the Captain has an instantly recognisable voice from dozens of British
television shows and commercials, while Hammer regular Michael Ripper
gets a larger than normal role.
One of Hammer's best adventure movies from the period, Captain Clegg eschews the action of Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960), Pirates of Blood River (1962) or Scarlet Blade
(1963) in favour of a more detailed storyline that helps it stand out
above the other films, most of which suffered from very noticable plot
holes. With a good cast and decent direction this film is recommended
to Hammer fans and highly recommended to fans of Peter Cushing.
Anyone famous in it?
Peter Cushing - Hammer favourite, best known as Van Helsing and Baron Frankenstein. Oliver Reed - big name British star who started his career with Hammer Films.
Directed by anyone interesting?
Peter Graham Scott - a little known British director with no other films of note.
Is it scary?
The Night Rider scenes have a good, scary atmosphere.
Some blood and violence.
Who is it for?
Recommended to Hammer fans and certainly for Peter Cushing fans.
Don Banks gives a typical Hammer orchestral score that suits the film well.
Original Aspect Ratio - 2.00:1. Anamorphically Enhanced. Colour The
print does appear to have been cropped at top and bottom, suggesting
that it might have been shot in a more open ratio. The picture quality
is good with strong colours, some noticable grain throughout.
Original English mono - Dolby Digital - sounds great, no hiss.