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SINFUL DAVEY(director: John Huston; screenwriters: from the book “The Life Of David Haggart” by David Haggart/James R. Webb; cinematographers: Edward Scaife/Freddie Young; editor: Russell Lloyd; music: Ken Thorne; cast: John Hurt (Davey Haggart), Pamela Franklin (Annie), Nigel Davenport (Constable), Ronald Fraser (MacNab), Robert Morley (Duke of Argyll), Maxine Audley (Duchess of Argyll), Niall Mac Ginnis (Boots Simpson), Donal McCann (Sir James Graham), Fidelma Murphy (Jean Carlisle); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: William N. Graf; United Artists; 1969-UK)
“It’s possible to get a few chuckles here and there.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This comedy adventure tale is a bomb, except for a young John Hurt’s energetic performance. Sinful Davey is supposedly a true story that has the Scottish lad Davey Haggart (Hurt) in 1821 turn to a life of crime after he becomes an army deserter and wishes to emulate his father’s criminal history. John Huston directs as if he fell asleep on the project and didn’t consider this an important film. It’s based on the autobiography “The Life Of David Haggart,” which is a telling of Davey’s roguish escapades; James R. Webb writes the screenplay. It’s a pale imitation of Tom Jones, but it’s lively in spots and it’s possible to get a few chuckles here and there, but for the most part it’s a bore.

Davey’s father was hanging from a rope until dead at the ripe old age of 21 after a botched highway robbery of the Duke of Argyle (Robert Morley). But this does not deter Davey from following in his footsteps. Davey is an incompetent highwayman who commits a daring robbery in broad daylight with the help of two henchmen (Ronald Fraser and Fidelma Murphy) and flees to hide out in the Scottish Highlands. The local Constable (Nigel Davenport) warns young Davey he will end up just like his father but nevertheless helps the lad escape. Annie (Pamela Franklin) is the kind-hearted farm girl who becomes his love interest and tries to help Davey give up a life of crime and settle down. While on the lam, Davey is captured when hit by a golf ball.

Huston shot it in Ireland, as the cast sports Irish instead of Scottish brogues. The photography looks pretty and the tongue-in-cheek attitude and good humor might please others more than it did me.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”