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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 5 April 2010
This film is over fifty years old now, but the quality is still excellent. The story is set in a British Navy ship during the napoleonic wars, and is an amalgamation of three of C.S Forester's best novels, (The happy return, A ship of the line, and Flying Colours). The screenplay was adapted by the author, CS Forester himself in person, so what we get here is a version created by the author himself that removes the clutter from the novels but stays true to the basic storyline, and to the characters themselves.

As a result the film moves at a fast pace, the action never stops and although the film is quite long, it is over before you know it, leaving you wanting more. Gregory Peck is outstanding as Captain Horatio Hornblower, giving the character real life and heart. This film is a must for all lovers of naval history and Gregory Peck.

This film gets the full five stars from me for script, production, locations, costumes and performances. This movie is a real treasure not to be missed.
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on 2 February 2010
Being the first - and today very little known - adaptation for screen this motion picture stays true to Forester's novels yet making the atmosphere and etiquette of the day understandable and believable to present day's viewers.

Gregory Peck is - as always - excellent in the title role as the solitary and basically lonely captain who's struggles and thoughts rarely come over his lips. Virginia Mayo Fulfills her role as the upper class turning romantic lady while still giving her character depth. The story focuses on events of the Hornblower series of novels that succeeds those of the very popular and recent TV series starring Ioan Gruffud. The manuscript is truthful to the novels both in respect to atmosphere, character depiction and events.

If you're a fan of Napoleonic times, history in general and the actors participating this is a must. Much care and effort was obviously taken by the production team to match the historical settings - from the firelocks on the cannon to the stock and frock of officer's uniforms. Even the prevailing "British" attitude and humour shines through from time to time in this Hollywood production such as an English sailor's linguistic skills in French: "Eh, oui oui, Monsewer!"

All in all a good picture with good cast, visual effects, storyline and dedication to details. Highly recommended to fans of the TV series, the Napoleonic and those who simply love a good love story set in a different time.
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on 24 April 2007
Set at the time of the Napolionic wars, HMS Lydia, a frigate of the British Navy, is sent on a secret mission to the Americas. She fights a ship twice her size and is very badly outgunned. Does she survive to fight another day? Tremendous cast including many very well known British actors. This film has the added advantage of Technicolour. Offering not only tender romance but vivid action and adventure which keeps you glued to the film to the very last minute. Great battle scenes which are thoroughly realistic. An outstanding classic, not to be missed. Partly filmed in Portsmouth Royal Navy base and Mermaid Street Rye East Sussex.
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on 1 December 2013
The last time I saw this film was on tv a long time ago. It has always been in my personal "Hall of Fame". It is exciting, funny, romantic and the battle scenes are just great. The Technicolor is terrific too, adding to the enjoyment of the story. I have read most of the Hornblower books by C.S.Forester and I recognized much of the stories I had read in the screenplay. Of course it did help that C.S.Forester wrote the screenplay himself. Although the actors who played the main characters were not British (Gregory Peck and Virginia Mayo - American and Robert Beatty - Canadian) they gave a pretty good performance of a British accent.The only jarring note for me was when there was a reference to the "English Navy" and the "King of England". At that stage in history the country was "Great Britain". This is a mistake usually common amongst Hollywood scriptwriters but surely not by a British writer. There may have been a bit of Hollywood script editing!
I was initially a bit wary about the DVD as it was a Dutch import. Although the sleeve details are in Dutch the film plays in English just as I remembered it. It is helpful that the language selection page is the first page shown.
I heartily recommend this DVD to anyone interested in that period of history and looking for a good story.
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This is a review of the American edition of this 1950 film, which skilfully combines three of CS Forester's Hornblower novels, `The Happy Return', `A Ship of the Line' and `Flying Colours'.

I am of an age where loan Gruffudd will always be Horatio Hornblower, but Gregory Peck undertook that role in an earlier time. Tall and gangly with a reserved character, Peck certainly looks the part, yet somehow it never seems completely natural. This is especially true with regard to his `cough' of embarrassment that Virginia Mayo as Lady Barbara Wellesley so quickly picks up on; the `cough' seemed mangled by Peck and thus came over more as an affectation than a natural response to me. But the film is as a whole well-acted: see if you can spot the young Christopher Lee!

The special effects are very good, the sailing seeming so natural. The battles are not as realistic and gory as those in `Master and Commander' - this is the 1950s after all - but I was well-impressed nevertheless.

There are some factual errors - most notably the reference to Arthur Wellesley being the Duke of Wellington in 1807 - and large diversions from the original novels, such as Hornblower's first wife Maria being portrayed like a lady, when she was the cloying daughter of a common Portsmouth landlady: but Hollywood could not have Gregory Peck marrying such a creature!

There are generous extras on this DVD. Firstly, there is an hour-long 1952 radio-theatre broadcast of more or less the same script as the film. It stars both Gregory Peck and Virginia Mayo, but is laughably relentless in its plugging of Lux Soap. Secondly, there is a twenty-minute film `My Country `Tis of Thee', an American history of the United States that was nominated for an Oscar. It is a product of its time (1950) and thus comes with a modern disclaimer from the studio for its portrayal of outdated racial attitudes. Finally, we have a Bugs Bunny episode from 1953 with Pirate Sam as `Captain Hareblower'.

Overall, then, a disc with more than two hours worth of good entertainment, whose contents are also of cultural and historic interest too.
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on 13 February 2013
Love this film, Gregory Peck is massive in the role of Hornblower and pulls off the mans hidden agonies with ease.
Virginia Mayo is beautiful and gives a very solid performance as the sister of influence and power. Their growing romance is a real delight, but there is also enough action and heroism to keep the adrenalin flowing. Well worth your money.
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on 2 February 2016
For some bizarre reason I had to buy the Spanish version and choose English in the language options. Not a problem but why isn't this available in English on region 2?. Anyway, the film is a condensed version of at least two Forester novels and cracks along at a good pace. Villains are Spanish and then French plus a British admiral. Nice to see James Robertson Justice in a supporting role, Gregory Peck his irascible best as HH, ten times better than the TV series, special effects much more satisfying than CGI. Recommended.
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on 2 March 2016
There is nothing as good as an old film what retains its feelings from years gone by. Unfortunately, the Actors are no longer around, but being able to watch them on the screen is a gift as are the memories that the film created when first seen in the cinema and never lost. Really wonderful!
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on 29 March 2007
this is one of my all time favorite films, its a long film over two hours and it has one of my favorite actors in it gregory peck. he plays the handome english sea captain of the film title and while battling the french and spanish ( the film is set around the early 19th century) he falls in love with virginia mayo, if you have not seen this film go out and get it you will be in for a real treat.
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on 1 June 2012
This 1951 version is an excellent film of C S Forester's initial trilogy (adapted for the screen by the author himself). Gregory Peck is ideal as Hornblower and the whole project is brilliantly done. This is the very best old fashioned swashbuckling entertainment. Press your whole gang on board!
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