Sunday 14 May 2023

Movie Review: The Sea Wolves (1980)

Genre: War Adventure
Director: Andrew V. McLaglen
Starring: Gregory Peck, Roger Moore, David Niven, Trevor Howard, Barbara Kellerman
Running Time: 120 minutes

Synopsis: In British India of 1943, Lieutenant-Colonel Lewis Pugh (Gregory Peck) and Captain Gavin Stewart (Roger Moore) uncover a German transmission station located on a ship anchored in the Portuguese-controlled port of Goa. Unable to mount a military operation in neutral territory, Pugh and Stewart turn to Colonel Grice (David Niven) and his aging Calcutta Light Horse volunteers to coordinate a raid. Meanwhile, Stewart initiates a romance with the alluring widow Mrs. Agnes Cromwell (Barbara Kellerman).

What Works Well: Inspired by the actual events of Operation Creek (chronicled in James Leasor's 1978 novel Boarding Party), this is an old-fashioned World War Two adventure featuring clever allies outfoxing evil Nazis, with a bit of suave sleuthing and dangerous dalliance on the side. The on-location filming ensures plenty of organic local texture, and the climactic raid is decently engaging.

What Does Not Work As Well: Director Andrew V. McLaglen is caught between delivering a spy caper (leveraging Roger Moore's Bond charisma) or a throwback to World War Two movies from the 1950s and 1960s (reuniting Gregory Peck and David Niven). Unsurprisingly the movie falls into the yawning gap. Shallow characterizations and careless inattention to the hairstyles and wardrobes of the 1940s do not help, and the over-long duration succumbs to tedium well before the action finally starts.

Conclusion: These wolves are more bark than bite.

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