Faulty Falkner Film
As those of you who have read some of my other movie reviews will know I am not a great reader, especially of fiction, and so it will come as little surprise when I say I have never read J. Meade Falkner's "Moonfleet". But from what I understand is that "Moonfleet" the movie is not an adaptation of Falkner's story but a movie based upon it, taking themes and ideas but also adding various elements and characters which I am sure will be a disappointment to those who read and cherished Falkner's adventure story. To be honest even if you haven't read the original "Moonfleet" the movie is a bit of a disappointment because what should be an exciting adventure movie ends up rather dull and a bit of a slog to follow.
Orphan John Mohune (Jon Whiteley) is dispatched to Moonfleet with a letter where he is meant to find James Fox (Stewart Granger - Scaramouche), a former lover of his mother's before her parents forced him to leave and forced her to marry a cousin. Fox who having returned from the Colonies a seemingly well to do gentleman is not initially happy too find himself saddled with a young boy especially when in truth he is in cahoots with a band of smugglers and is little more than a smuggler in grand clothes himself. But he warms to young John especially when the young ward discovers the secret of one of his late relatives which could lead them to great treasure.
Story wise "Moonfleet" isn't really complex as we have Fox looking like a well to do land owner but is in truth just a smuggler having to deal with a young ward. There is a search for treasure whilst Fox discovers that he truly cares for the son of his former lover despite initially not wanting him around. Throw in some treachery and the local law trying to capture the smugglers and there is little which is hard to follow.
The trouble is that "Moonfleet" is hard to follow because it is too wordy with not enough action. In fact it is so wordy that it becomes a slog as not a lot happens for long periods of time. The reason for this, well it seems to me that someone has tried to turn Falkner's "Moonfleet", an adventure story for children, into something adults will enjoy. But it just doesn't work because having a young boy as the focal point of the movie doesn't make it that interesting to adults. Basically it should have been made for children with more excitement and adventure and less words and speeches.
As for the action and adventure well to be honest it is less than exciting. There are but a handful of action scenes and only one which really calls on Stewart Granger deliver anything fancy when he picks up a sword to fight with but even then it is so ordinary. It feels like director Fritz Lang was either trying to make a stand against excess swashbuckling action or was being constrained by budget. For whatever reason it's just not exciting like an adventure movie should be.
And as for the acting well it seems to me that Stewart Granger was coasting through the movie, which to be honest is understandable because his character is so under written. And that is bad news because it is Stewart Granger which is the attraction to watch "Moonfleet" and with everyone else having even weaker characters it just doesn't work.
What this all boils down to is that it feels like to me that with "Moonfleet" someone tried to take a children's adventure story and turn it into a movie for adults. It just doesn't work and whilst there is nothing terrible about it "Moonfleet" is very ordinary lacking the excitement and thrill you expect.