Richard Hughes’s masterly novel, transferred vividly to the screen by Alexander Mackendrick, is a darker work than sometimes suggested. A hurricane devastates the island, so children are dispatched to England and safety. On the journey their ship is captured by pirates, and the children wreak havoc on board.
When, in turn, the pirates are captured and tried, the captain and his mate are sentenced to death, largely because of a death caused by one of the girls. In fact the villains are harmless and hardly defend themselves, so society exacts revenge while model boats sail on the serpentine in Hyde Park in an ambiguous reminder of events past.
Anthony Quinn as Chavez
James Coburn as Zac
Deborah Baxter as Emily
Gert Fröbe as Dutch Captain
Dennis Price as Mathias
Lila Kedrova as Rosa
Nigel Davenport as Mr. Thornton
Director: Alexander Mackendrick
Script: Stanley Mann, Ronald Harwood
UK | 103 minutes | 1965