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CAPTAIN LIGHTFOOT(director: Douglas Sirk; screenwriter: from the novel by W.R. Burnett/W.R. Burnett; cinematographer: Irving Glassberg; editor: Frank Gross; music: Heinz Roemheld; cast: Rock Hudson (Michael Martin, aka Capt. Lightfoot), Barbara Rush (Aga Doherty), Jeff Morrow (John Doherty, aka Capt. Thunderbolt), Kathleen Ryan (Lady Anne More), Finlay Currie (Callahan), Denis O’Dea (Regis Donnell), Shay Gorman (Tim Keenan), Kenneth MacDonald (Desmond, High Steward), Christopher Casson (Lord Clonmel), Charles B. Fitzsimons (Dan Shanley), Edward Aylward (Big Tom), Hilton Edwards (Lord Glen); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ross Hunter; Universal Pictures; 1955)
“It never had enough fire in its belly to make it memorable.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Douglas Sirk (“Taza, Son of Cochise”/”Take Me To Town”/”Has Anybody Seen My Gal?”) directs an enjoyable action film about a 19th-century adventurer who fights as an Irish revolutionary for the cause of freeing Ireland from British rule. It’s written by W.R. Burnett from his own novel. Considerably helped by its authentic Dublin locations, lush CinemaScope photography, fittingly tasteful costumes and the talented Irish supporting actors. Though it never completely sparkles, it also does not completely fizzle despite lacking substance.

Michael Martin (Rock Hudson) is a member of an Irish revolutionary secret society in Ballymore, who disobeys his cautious leader Regis Donnell (Denis O’Dea) and robs Desmond (Kenneth MacDonald), the British high steward, when warned to keep a low profile so the society will go unnoticed. When recognized, Martin flees to Dublin and is saved from the pursuing British soldiers by legendary Irish revolutionary leader Captain Thunderbolt (Jeff Morrow) disguised as a priest. In Dublin Martin meets the leader’s wife Lady Anne More (Kathleen Ryan) and his headstrong daughter Aga Doherty (Barbara Rush), whom he falls in love with. Thunderbolt trains him in a variety of skills that include dancing, dubs him Captain Lightfoot and makes him his second in command. When Thunderbolt is wounded and has to hide out in a gypsy’s caravan, Lightfoot runs the gambling casino and the revolutionary operation. Recklessly Aga visits her wounded father when she sniffs out where he is, but is followed by the British soldiers who take her father prisoner. With the help of secret admirer Lord Clonmel (Christopher Casson), Thunderbolt escapes but the reckless Lightfoot is captured when he dons a monk’s disguise to enter the prison and free his comrade. When Lightfoot is transferred to the prison in Ballymore Castle, a daring escape is planned by both the secret society and Captain Thunderbolt.

The film seemed to plod along until the exciting climax redeems it as an action yarn. But it never had enough fire in its belly to make it memorable.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”