Sinful Davey

1968, Movie, M, 95 mins

Review

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A good cast overcomes the somewhat heavy-handed direction of Huston in this TOM JONES-inspired comedy. Hurt, excellent in one of his first leading roles, is a young Scot of the 1820s who vows to follow his father's profession as highwayman. He hopes, however, to be rather more successful than the old man, who was hanged at age 21 for robbing Morley. Hurt deserts the army and joins up with slimy pickpocket Fraser but only ends up in jail for his efforts. Then Hurt manages to slip into the women's prison, where he has a bit of fun with bawdy Murphy. His childhood friend from the orphanage he was raised in (Franklin, in a fine performance) bails Hurt out, and he in turn helps Fraser. When Hurt robs a stagecoach, news of the crime reaches constable Davenport. Franklin warns Hurt that he'll end up as his father did, but she helps him foil Davenport's pursuit nonetheless. Hurt heads for the hills (literally), hiding out in the Scottish Highlands, where he has more adventures. Saving McCann from some robbers, he pockets the money himself. McCann doesn't realize his rescuer is a thief and takes Hurt with him to the home of his uncle, who as it happens is Morley. Eager to meet the man who was responsibl for his father's hanging, Hurt goes off with McCann--followed by his old partner, Fraser, in the company of Murphy. The followers, in turn, are followed by Franklin and Davenport. The three bandits end up robbing everyone at a grand ball; but again Franklin, who wants to reform Hurt and return all the jewels, foils the plan. After a comical chase Hurt is arrested and sentenced to the gallows. Fraser and Franklin rig the noose, saving Hurt's life, and Hurt and Franklin ride off together. The cast is just marvelous, providing the right amount of zest and derring-do to make this film work. Huston's direction is plodding, however. He seems to have no sense of comedy at all but merely repeats set-ups and punch lines over and over until the end. Shot on location in Ireland, this film was based on the memoirs of an actual 19th-century highwayman. leave a comment

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