THE ROVER. United Artists, 1967. Released first in Italy as L’avventuriero. Anthony Quinn, Rosanna Schiaffino, Rita Hayworth, Richard Johnson, Ivo Garrani, Luciano Rossi, Anthony Dawson. Based on the novel by Joseph Conrad. Director: Terence Young.

   It was with some bemusement I watched The Rover, a film based on Joseph Conrad’s novel, a cheap-jack multinational production/tax write-off which captures nothing at all of Conrad’s ethos and even less of the brooding excitement of his writing at its best.

   What we’re left with is Anthony Quinn — that charismatic actor whose career had more bad steps than a derelict lighthouse — as a Napoleonic-era trench privateer returned to his country with all too little to show his head-hunting bosses. He falls in love with a mysterious young woman, tries to refit a derelict ship and slip past a British blockade, but by that time, everyone’s pretty much lost interest in this shabby show.

   How tacky is it? Well, aside from the perfunctory photography and poor dubbing, it’s set in a rather sparsely-populated France (well, maybe everyone was off fighting the wars) with few buildings, one or two streets, and maybe four horses. And the scene of a British ship chasing the privateer was very obviously filmed with One ship photographed from different angles, edited to try and make it look like Two — which don’t work.

   Sad to see talents that once showed some promise stuck in this movie-mire: The Rover was directed by Terence Young, who made movie history a few years earlier launching the James Bond series; aside from Quinn, it features Rita Hayworth and Richard Johnson (who at various times embodied Bulldog Drummond and Lord Nelson) and, in a teeny-tiny part, tucked off in a corner somewhere, movie-goers with long memories will spot Anthony Dawson and wonder what became of the promising actor so memorable as the unlucky Cpt. Lesgate in Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder.

— Reprinted from The Hound of Dr. Johnson #7, May 2000.