Saturday, 10 November 2007

The Hellfire Club (1961)

The notorious 18th century Hellfire Club would, you would think, make a great subject for a movie. Unfortunately the 1961 British film The Hellfire Club is not that movie. The Hellfire Club itself plays a marginal role in the film, which is really just a swashbuckling adventure romp. The good news is, if you happen to like swashbuckling adventure romps then this one is a pretty good example of the breed. Keith Michell makes a dashing, brave and noble hero as the son of a wicked lord (and leading figure in the infamous Hellfire Club). He and his mother flee the said wicked lord but his mother is killed and he realises he cannot go back to the family estate now. So, naturally, he runs off to join the circus. As you do. When word comes that his father is dead he returns to claim his title and his inheritance only to find that his wicked cousin has got there first. He enlists the help of a slightly shady lawyer (Peter Cushing), and with his pals from the circus sets out to right the wrongs that have been done to him. The movie has the look of a Hammer film, and includes a number of regular Hammer players, although in fact it has no connection with that studio. There’s plenty of action, lots of narrow escapes, and an abundance of swordplay. Not a great movie, but entertaining escapist entertainment.

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