Two hundred years ago the great heath of Dorsetshire ran wild and bleak down to the sea. Here, in hidden coves and lonely villages, the smuggling bands plied their violent trade. And here, one October evening of the year 1757, a small boy came in search of a man whom he believed to be his friend.
Filmed in Cinemascope and Eastman Color, Moonfleet is a hugely enjoyable adventure featuring smugglers, rapscallions, wonderfully costumed soldiers, and crucially, an engaging bond between a man and his young ward.
John Mohune (Jon Whiteley) – the young son of a once-wealthy but now ruined aristocratic family – is sent after the death of his parents to stay with Jeremy Fox (Stewart Granger), the squire of the Dorset village of Moonfleet.
Fox had once been the lover of John’s mother, but they were prevented from marrying by the opposition of her family, who thought he was neither wealthy nor well-born enough for her.
As the fortunes of the Mohunes declined, however, so those of Fox increased, and he is now the wealthiest man in the village, living in their ancestral mansion.
Fox takes a liking to the boy, and a friendship grows between them. Unknown to John, however, Fox is not the respectable country gentleman he appears.
His main source of wealth is his involvement in the lucrative, but highly illegal, smuggling trade, and he has plans to go into partnership with Lord Ashwood, a local nobleman, in a venture which involves plundering foreign ships.
The debonair rogue Fox is also something of a ladies’ man, with at least two mistresses, one of whom denounces him to the authorities when he tires of her.
The main plot concerns Fox and John’s search for a long-lost diamond that had once belonged to one of the Mohune family.