When Eight Bells Toll - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

When Eight Bells Toll Reviews

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½ March 30, 2016
British Treasury secret agent Phillip Calvert (Anthony Hopkins) is sent to investigate the hijacking of five cargo ships in the Irish Sea, tracking the latest hijacked ship-the Nantesville, carrying 8 million in gold bullion-to the Scottish Highlands and the sleepy port town of "Torbay" on the "Isle of Torbay". Posing as marine biologists, Calvert and his partner Hunslett (Corin Redgrave) find the local inhabitants suspicious and hostile. They suspect that Cypriot tycoon and shipping magnate Sir Anthony Skouras (Jack Hawkins), whose luxury yacht Shangri-La is anchored off the coast, may be behind the pirating of the gold bullion. While searching the surrounding area in a Royal Navy Helicopter, Calvert makes contact with a group of remote shark fishermen who appear more friendly than Torbay's locals. Calvert also meets the occupants of a Castle, Lord Kirkside and his teenage daughter, who behave strangely as well as being hostile...

"When Eight Bells Toll" was made and released about five years after its source novel of the same name by Alistair MacLean was first published in 1966. This was MacLean's eleventh novel and this movie was the sixth film adaptation of one of MacLean's stories. This picture was planned as being the first of a series of spy movies featuring the character of Philip Calvert. Around this time, it was known that Sean Connery would not be doing another James Bond film after Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and there was speculation that the Bond franchise might end. As such, a potential vacuum was sensed by rival producer Elliott Kastner. But when this movie failed at the box-office, plans for a film franchise to succeed the James Bond movies were scrapped. This is obviously made in the wake of James Bond as said and this attempt to put British Treasury secret agent Phillip Calvert on the map as a competitor to Bond is a failure in many ways. First of all the character hardly sends sparks around him (even if Hopkins can act, but makes less sense as a secret agent), the story is pretty linear (loose ends that stay loose) with planted atypical British farcical add ons that doesnt work at all, the action is along the line of "we can see that its a stuntman" and "When Eight Bells Toll" never becomes that exciting. This is just mediocre, uninteresting and forgettable. Hardly the best Alistair MacLean material nor movie adaptation. And you got to love the over the top movie poster that was made for the film which seems to belong to an entirely different film.
February 5, 2016
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 once 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.
January 12, 2016
The "Professional Bastard" Played By Sir Anthony Hopkins Is As Try-Hard Bond As You May Get. This Is Then Made Worse By The Uncle Arthur (Sir Arthur??) Character Being A Dorky-Dunst Actor, His Character Turns From Serious Government Bureaucrat To Side-Kick Village Idiot, I Found It Infuriatingly Dumb...Then To Boot, The Plan Is All Foiled With No Real Fuss Or Drama In 6-7 Minutes. Just A Shoot Out & That's It. Sheezus This Was Just Bad!
November 30, 2015
Much smaller in budget and takings than its Alistair MacLean siblings Navarone, Zebra, and Eagles but with some equal pleasures such as Hopkins' acting, Morley's snobbery, Delon's gorgeousness, some wild and beautiful Scottish scenery, and the bad guys getting despatched in a variety of novel ways (I particularly liked the lesson about not trying to get away from a whaling harpoon gun in a very slow boat). The editing is much slicker and faster than you'd imagine, possibly to cover the averageness in the direction. Even in a one-dimensional action-man role Hopkins' subtlety and variety is obvious.
August 21, 2013
A sub standard James Bond esque film but still worth watching for the performances of Hopkins and the wonderful Robert Morley. Hopkins goes in search of missing gold bullion from ships off the coast of scotland.
August 14, 2013
This is a James Bond style thriller Anthony Hopkins is fantastic in this role,Robert Morley is great as his usual self, pompus, and well educated, but made for the big screen, naval secret-service agent who is assigned to find out why millions of pounds of gold bullion are being stolen under the noses of the British government. Some of the boat scenes are fantastic, its a very enjoyable film x
½ February 22, 2013
When Sean Connery announced that he wasn't going to do any more Bond films, this company thought they'd step up and fill the void. Unfortunately for them, this movie bombed at the box office.

The film is VERY English. Filmed in Scotland, drenched in the dull gray that defines much of the north Atlantic. But the story is compelling and the acting is quite good.

I liked it. There are no bullet bending super-magnets, lasers or gadget laden spy cars here. Calvert relies on his wits and guile to get the job done, and he's never glib about it.
½ February 17, 2013
Anthony Hopkins is nice all along. The later half of the movie is a bit boring.
½ February 4, 2013
It really is an alternative Bond, and Hopkins is far better than some critics (eg Leonard Maltin) have you think. The interplay with Morley is especially fun.
July 28, 2012
Effectively a feature-length screen-test for the role of James Bond, Hopkins falls just short of what is required but still does manage to deliver the requisite thrills. Hopkins plays the cold, hard bastard part very well indeed, but his build isn't all that convincing for the action onscreen at times, but it's mostly good. The use of the musical score has to be seen to be believed in how OTT it is. Hopkins and the action set pieces of the film continually lag behind the bombastic score that seems to mock the John Barry jazz scores for 007. The plot itself is diverting enough. There is plenty Scottish atmosphere to enjoy here, including Duart Castle (look for former 007 Sean Connery to reside there in Entrapment). The movie is sure to satisfy those looking for a little British intrigue and a glimpse of what Hopkins as Bond would have looked like. It's a shame really the movie didn't spin off any sequels.
July 22, 2012
Hasn't aged well but its fun watching Anthony Hopkins trying to be Bond.
July 1, 2012
I just love this film
June 16, 2012
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.
May 17, 2012
Tackier than old bond
March 14, 2010
Classic James Bond style thriller with Anthony Hopkins as the spy who goes after gold.
Loads of action and suspense to keep you happy!
November 22, 2009
This is one of Anthony Hopkins first major roles after Spartacus and Hamlet in the 60's. He is here a Secret Service agent who gets the assignment to look for some stolen gold barrs at the coast of Scotland. Have to say that Hopkins boss, Uncle Arthur (Robert Morley), is a stupid carachter in this movie. The bad guys looks bad and the nice looks nice. Just as it should at this time. It had its charm to watch.
October 25, 2009
Artyig å shå Anthony Hopkins anno 1971, men denne MacLean-filmen er i alle fall ikkje av dei beste. Nokre lyspunkt og litt James Bond-aktig utan at eg vil påstå at Hopkings på langt nær har det same glimtet som Sean Connery og Roger Moore....
½ October 7, 2009
If Alistair MacLean (Where Eagles Dare and The Guns of Navarone) did Ian Fleming, this would be their love child. Since MacLean did write this, this gem can only be decribed as the Anthony Hopkins 70's answer to todays Daniel Craig.
Convoluted? Yes, watchable? absolutely
½ September 1, 2009
An unpretencious mclean classic!!
May 15, 2009
Between OHMSS in 1969 and Diamonds are Forever in 1971 there was a chance that Bond would be retiring for good. The Rank Film Corporation figured that Alistair MacLean's maverick secret agent Philip Calvert would be the best to take his place.

Obviously that didn't work out. Bond continued to prosper while Calvert faded into obscurity. You shouldn't count him out completely though as there is plenty of rugged and gritty thrills here in the vain of cold war thrillers that the high-key and glossy Bond films lack.

However, a cold war villain or a madman wishing to take over the world ain't the antagonists here. A bunch of thugs hijacking ships and hiding out in a lonely port in the highlands are Calvert's enemies. Though I don't really care about such low-octane crimes and I failed to connect with the plot.

Despite a touch of humour, some unusual scenery and the occasional tough guy moment there's just not enough of W8BT to get into. The film is over in 90 minutes and feels a bit rushed. I think it would have befitted considerably from a slower pace and an extra twenty minutes.

Still, it's fun to see a young Anthony Hopkins doing the action hero thing, even if I have do damn clue what the title means.
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