Guns blaze, masts and rigging crash to the deck, railings disappear in showers of splinters and acrid black smoke sweeps across the deck of the gale-lashed ship.
Just three minutes and several thousand pounds later, a two-hour truce was called in the filming. A dozen casualties limped to the waiting nurses and doctors at the first aid station.
They were victims of one of the many battle scenes in Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. – scenes that are among the most realistic ever filmed in a British studio.
Made at Denham and Pinewood Studios with American capital, this adaptation of CS Forester’s epic provoked a storm of controversy because American stars were chosen to play oh-so British characters.
But Gregory Peck was very much at home in the role of the heroic Hornblower, the scourge of Napoleon’s navy.
Hornblower delivers arms to a rebel leader who believes he can drive the Spanish out of South America. Then he encounters a Spanish ship whose crew tell him that Spain is now allied to England!
They also deliver another surprise – in the form of the beautiful Lady Barbara Wellesley (Virginia Mayo) who has been their prisoner and who now demands passage to England.
During the voyage, Lady Barbara falls ill with a fever. Hornblower nurses her back to health, and in the process falls in love with his patient.
But back in England, Lady Barbara – sister of the Duke of Wellington – marries not the lowly captain but a Rear Admiral (Denis O’Dea) and poor Hornblower is sent off in the frigate Lydia to destroy three French ships.
In the battle that follows he loses his ship and his liberty. But all is not lost for Hornblower, not even love.
Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N
Lady Barbara Wellesley
Lt. William Bush
2nd Lt. Gerard
James Robertson Justice
Rear Admiral Sir Rodney Leighton
Mr Harrison, Bosun
El Supremo (Don Julian Alvarado)