Anthony Quinn’s penchant for grizzled characterization gets a colorful boost in this picturization of Richard Hughes’ 1929 bestseller, which projects him as a Caribbean pirate. British production is a curious mixture of high melodrama and light overtones, the latter occasioned by presence of a flock of youngsters aboard a pirate ship.
Most of the action takes place at sea. Filmed on location around Jamaica, Alexander Mackendrick’s direction keeps his movement alive within the somewhat limited confines of a schooner where Quinn, the Spanish pirate captain, is confronted with the disturbing question of what to do with seven children who unbeknownst to him have slipped from another ship he attacked and now are found in the hold of his own craft.
Quinn endows his role with a subdued humanness in which there is occasional humor. James Coburn, costarred with Quinn as his English mate, socks over character in which he combines humor with dramatic strength.