Alistair MacLean’s two-fisted, no-holds-barred adventure yarns are a natural for the screen. When Eight Bells Toll brings in more slugging, quick action twists, sharp dialog, amusing acting than many pix twice its length.
Anthony Hopkins has a role that creates a character full of resource, courage, cheek and personality. A kind of James Bond, without the latter’s trademarks. Character is a naval secret service agent assigned to find out how millions of pounds in gold bullion are being pirated. He starts his explorations in the bleakness of the Western Highlands of Scotland. Hopkins and his pal (Corin Redgrave) posing as marine biologists find mystery and hostility among the natives and the obvious suspect is a suave, rich Greek tycoon (Jack Hawkins) whose luxury yacht guests some odd characters.
Main femme appeal comes from Nathalie Delon as the mystery woman who is allegedly Hawkins’ wife but apparently goes over to the Hopkins camp. Hawkins, himself, as the Greek tycoon retains his usual stature and his voice (lost to throat cancer) is very shrewdly dubbed [by Charles Gray] . Comedy relief comes from Robert Morley, as Hopkins’ snobbish, stuffy chief.