Ask your standard movie fan which Alistair MacLean adaptation they prefer and the vote would most likely be split between THE GUNS OF NAVARONE and WHERE EAGLES DARE, but, whilst I absolutely love the latter of those two, my personal favorite has been for many years WHEN EIGHT BELLS TOLL - a spy thriller penned by MacLean in the late 1960s and filmed with Anthony Hopkins in the lead role in 1971.
I saw the movie many years ago on British television and always longed to see it once more.
Watching it again after all these years my passion for this action adventure is unfailing, I consider this to be the best spy thriller that [Bond producers] EON Productions NEVER made.
With a simply superb cast that sees Hopkins joined by Robert Morley (as a rather snobbish boss) and Jack Hawkins (as a suspicious millionaire) this movie is simply brimming over with "Bondian" elements that include beautiful girls (bad and good), thrilling action, underwater battles, building suspense and a roaring soundtrack. It's the most entertaining couple of hours of spy thriller action that I have had the opportunity to enjoy in almost two decades.
Hopkins plays secret agent Calvert who travels to the coast of Scotland disguised as a marine biologist to investigate the disappearance of bullion ships in the Irish Sea. There he encounters a colorful array of characters, both friend and foe before a climactic battle in an underground boathouse.