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    Sea Devils

    Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 87 mins . G . PAL


    I wonder what the list of films that the studios are desperate to release on DVD looks like. So many decent films are waiting behind Saturday afternoon matinee filler material like this ordinary fare from 1952.

    Sea Devils tells the convoluted and silly story of an English spy ring in 1800 trying to learn Napoleon’s troop movements and planned English invasion details. Some woman (Yvonne de Carlo) is a spy and she gets taken from the Guernsey Islands (mid English Channel) to France by a shirtless sash-wearing rogue (Rock Hudson). She spins some fabricated lie and sucks him in before he finds out she’s actually a countess and kidnaps her back to the Guernseys. Then he ends up getting her back to France in time because it turns out she’s not a countess but an impostor trying to get close to Napoleon. Or something like that.

    In the space of two brief encounters during one evening they realise they’re in love and that just gets things all muddled up, particularly when she is discovered and he must stage a daring rescue full of derring-do.

    Dog-do more like.

    Made on what could only be described as a shoestring budget, the props are cheap, the costumes garish and clichéd and the acting is just plain average. Oh, plus the script is shit. I have a hard time even thinking back to this while typing, let alone recommending it to anyone. I say keep your money and watch the TV guide for the next week or two. This is bound to show up one lazy Sunday afternoon or deep in the night on the ABC.


    Surprisingly, the picture is very good for one of 52 years' vintage. There's barely an artefact throughout to mar the image and a quite sharp delivery of lines. Colours are good, though border on over-saturated at times (red sashes and neckties especially). Shadow detail is crappy and while blacks are mostly true, they do lean toward greeny at times and deep grey at others. There are also some occasional moments of film burn and reflection. In one scene, there is even a very clear shot of the lighting guy who holds the reflecting card playing with the reflection on Ms. De Carlo. And it just looks stupid. The whole mess is delivered courtesy of the 4:3 ratio. Yahoo.


    The Dolby Digital stereo mix does what it was intended, and that is to deliver this pissy script to us clearly through the dialogue of the actors. They all speak clearly enough, but there are some poor to unconvincing accents thrown around with some coming and going from certain cast members. Sound effects are ludicrously stock while the musical score by Richard Addinsell features the usual sort of generic overstated orchestral highs and lows. And even gets tinny at times. Woo.


    This budget release has a static menu and the chapter selection right there on the main menu! How thoughtful, but that’s all we get.

    Thank God.


    This film was old when I was young and I’m sure I probably sat through it out of ten-year-old boredom at some stage. The fact I can’t remember it is a clear indicator too. Directed by Raoul Walsh, Sea Devils is a much poorer film than any of his other works I’ve seen to date, and that's saying something. Have a go at 'em: Battle Cry, Objective Burma or The Big Trail. The characters are shallow and when they attempt to deepen themselves, it appears tacked on and cheesy. The costumes are a bad caricature and the story is fairly empty when it is boiled away.

    Overall a very unimpressive and empty film with perhaps the tiniest of offerings for Hudson or de Carlo fans (she was Lily Munster after all), but for everyone else this is just banal filler.

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