In a vein similar to the James Bond movies, British Agent Philip Calvert (Sir Anthony Hopkins) is on a mission to determine the whereabouts of a ship that disappeared near the coast of Scotland.
User Reviews: With only a couple of exceptions I’ve never been disappointed in film adaptions of Alastair McLean’s work. As some authors are difficult to translate to the screen, McLean’s action novels seem to be ready made for adaption. Just look at some of his work, The Guns Of Navarone, Breakheart Pass, Where Eagles Dare, Ice Station Zebra. I’ve loved all of them and When Eight Bells Toll came out it joins the list albeit in a more minor vein.
This film gave a young Anthony Hopkins a chance to be an action hero. His character has more of a rebellious streak than James Bond ever did, but he gets results. His assignment is to get to the bottom of a series of ship hijackings, the last one was a freighter carrying a fortune in gold bullion. He’s teamed with Corin Redgrave who takes a more cerebral approach to crime fighting.
That however leaves Redgrave dead and Hopkins looking to take down who did it. He himself is almost killed when a helicopter he was in was shot down. All the action takes place in and around the islands of Northern Scotland where the locals seem to be helping the bad guys. And in McLean tradition, just who are the bad guys.
In most of McLean’s work there is always a twist or two and which side the players are on is a mystery through much of the film. When Eight Bells Toll is no exception.
Robert Morley plays the spymaster supervisor of Hopkins and is less avuncular than usual. Jack Hawkins is a Greek shipping tycoon with a young trophy wife. As we know Hawkins had lost his voice box to cancer and his last eight or so years he was dubbed. Whoever dubbed him sounded to me remarkably like Alec Guinness.
When Eight Bells Toll is not as good as some of the other McLean inspired films I mentioned before. But it’s still a pretty good action film.