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    English, French

    The Sea Wolves

    Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 120 mins . PG . NTSC


    When neutral politics prevent the Allies destroying a hidden Nazi radio transmitter, a retired battalion (the Calcutta Light Horse) must do the dirty work. Comprised of mostly middle-aged and older men, they must board a boat and blow it up by posing as a group of drunken businessmen on a business trip.

    Sounds like fun and oh boy, it is! (when the action fiiiiinally gets around to the mission). There are some deliberate comical scenes of the old blokes trying to get back in shape, which are genuinely funny, though more subtle than they would be made today. The whole idea is a good one, and based upon a true story as it turns out. There are some unfortunate portions of incredibly slow moving plot with little result, even after all the time it took, which is a shame. But then, when looking over the entire story, it isn’t a huge one and it’s obvious they’ve had to pad it where they could and drag out whatever else they could. Unfortunately, this detracts from the actual heroic conflict in the conclusion and makes you kind of relieved it’s finally over. A ruthless editing of the earlier film and a more detailed final mission could have worked wonders for this movie.

    Roger Moore spends most of the film trying not to look like James Bond and saying some of the crappest zingers you'll ever hear. If comedy ain’t yer thing, then don’t do it, says I. He’s all like heroic one minute and then like a lameass the next trying to win a friend with a pitiful and clunky oneliner. Oh, and I’ve heard being shot really, really hurts. You’d think a mosquito had nipped him when he takes one in the arm later on. If only they’d shot him in his Big Book of British Zingers.

    As an interesting sidenote, actual German survivors of this skirmish were advisors to the scriptwriters in getting the story right. A nice touch to be sure, but there really wasn’t all that much for them to authenticate with few ‘German only’ scenes.


    This film starts out really well, considering it was made in 1980 and is yet another in a long line of NTSC releases in this decidedly PAL region of the world we live in. The colours are well duplicated, though there’s an unearthly amount of khakis and washed out browns in multiple incarnations. Skin tones are a little dark, even on the white folks who are stationed in this part of Goa, and I don’t think it has anything to do with the sun. All the black levels and shadows start out nice to begin with, but deteriorate later in the piece, taking on a more blue/black quality. Our other friend, the film artefact (rarely a stranger to films of this age), makes its appearance frequently throughout. There’s a beauty at 1:07:50 when a big black spot sits right on Gregory Peck’s magnificent face. Apart from that, the picture is mostly alright. This applies to both sides of the disc, on the A side we get the 4:3 transfer cropped at the sides to fit our television screen, while the B side contains a 16:9 enhanced transfer at the 1.66:1 aspect and, as usual, makes for better viewing. In fact, I’m surprised they even bother to bring out a 4:3 version. Why do they do that? Anyone?


    I think the Allies bombed the audio track as well. The volume level isn’t very well balanced with the music track, upping and downing all over the place. Sometimes I even had to turn up the sound and rewind to hear one of Roger Moore’s quips (which I promptly regretted). On top of that the sound effects sound like canned sound effects. See if you know these favourites:

    - The classic staccato burst of machine gun fire.
    - That last bullet whining off metal into the distance.
    - Man screams as he falls off a boat into the sea, clutching his stomach.
    ...and many others.

    Then there’s the music, completing this triptych of audio clangers. It’s loud in parts, it gets used as sound effects occasionally and worse, it’s extremely Rule Brittania throughout. I mean, jolly good show - you boys won the war and all, sent the Bosch packing in capital fashion and all before tea, but please! Enough. For this DVD, the war ist over, ja?


    Nup. Want to learn more about the war? Want to learn more about this unusual and unorthodox mission? Want filmographies of the classic stable of veteran actors? Want a trailer, an audio commentary or even interviews? Want to find out who wrote Roger Moore’s excellently funny comebacks?



    Any dudes who actually participated in the original mission might want this DVD. People who find Roger Moore funny might too. Most people will find other films of greater import when purchasing DVDs; even if purchasing war movies. This is a fairly mundane effort, perhaps the only bonus is the inclusion of a proper widescreen presentation. But that really makes the 4:3 transfer superfluous, thus ending any chance of it being a bonus. Mundane is the best word I have for this.

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      And I quote...
    "Wartime made mundane."
    - Jules Faber
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