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It’s Hayley Mills time again!
No, we’re here viewing another Hayley Mills Disney film: a film with thrills and suspense…or at least a film that’s supposed to be filled with thrills and suspense. Sit tight as we take a look at “The Moon-Spinners”.
And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!
The movie starts by showing the credits while also playing the title song in the background, a song written by Terry Gilkyson.
We then cut to an overcrowded bus traveling down the roads of the Greek island of Crete. Two of the passengers on this bus are British. One of them is young Nikky Ferris, played by Hayley Mills. The other is her aunt, Frances, played by Joan Greenwood.
Let’s just say that their experience on the bumpy roads (along with passengers who bring stinking fish aboard) is all but a pleasant one. They try to not get nauseous by focusing on other things and doing things such as reciting the poem, “Jabberwocky”.
Finally, the bus arrives at their destination, a little Greek inn called “The Moon-Spinners”. Why are they coming here? Well, the reason isn’t too clear, but when Aunt Frances realizes that the inn is named after a local song, she decides to study all she can about the song since she’s some sort of musicologist. The problem is that the owner of the inn, Sophia, played by Irene Papas, says that she never received the telegram they sent requesting two rooms, and she has no place for them to sleep in the inn as it’s not open to visitors.
But after some persuading by Aunt Frances, Sophia allows them to sleep in an empty, unoccupied room upstairs. So, the question one may be wondering is, Why did Sophia lie and say that no room was available? Well, it has to do with Sophia’s brother, Stratos. Stratos, played by Eli Wallach, has recently come from London and doesn’t want any other guests to come to the inn. When he finds out that Nikky and her aunt have gotten a room here, he is quite displeased. He lets them know that he wants them both out of the inn by the next day.
Later on at dinner, while Sophia is entertains a wedding party, Nikky and Aunt Frances discover that they’re not the only British people there. There happens to be a young English man staying there as well, a man by the name of Mark Camford. Mark, played by Peter McEnery quickly befriends Aunt Frances and Nikky, the latter developing a crush on him. They all get to know each other and spend the night in merriment with the wedding party. Mark even invites Nikky to go swimming with him the next day at a nearby place known as the Bay of Dolphins. And since Mark is extremely charming and good-looking and since Nikky is a
teen tween young adult, she readily agrees to it.
Later on that night, Nikky goes up to the room to find Stratos in there rummaging through their things. He apologizes and says that he was just in there to look for some “books of his”. HA!
Also later on that night, Mark, who already shows deep distrust towards Stratos, sees Stratos heading towards the Bay of Dolphins. He decides to follow him. But when Stratos sees that Mark is following him, he along with his associate Lambis, played by Paul Stassino, shoot Mark. Mark manages to get away and it’s uncertain whether or not he survives the shot.
The next day when Nikky wakes up and is ready to go to the Bay of Dolphins to meet Mark, Sophia tells her that Mark has left the hotel overnight. We later find out that this is what Stratos has told his sister to explain the disappearance of Mr. Mark Camford.
Nikky is quite disappointed by the news and goes off on a walk through Crete to shrug off her disappointment. She then stumbles upon an old church and finds bloodstains on the floor and walls. Following them, she finds an injured Mark.
He is unwilling to tell her anything regarding what happened to him despite her constant inquiring, and instead tells her to go to the inn to surreptitiously acquire clothes for him.She does this and even manages to get a bottle of
brandy some alcoholic beverage and a first aid kit with which she heads back to the church.
Stratos, after discovering that Nikky took the first aid kit, starts to suspect something and heads out looking for Nikky. He eventually finds her walking nearby the church and questions her about what she’s doing there. After giving some false replies, he then charges into the church, but Mark is nowhere to be found. Yet, the bloodstains and other remnants of his stay are still visible. Stratos then kidnaps and locks Nikky in a nearby windmill and heads back to the inn telling her aunt that he hasn’t seen Nikky at all.
Luckily, Mark is able to find her and they escape via the windmill itself.
Before they are able to escape, Stratos and Lambis catch up with them and a struggle ensues. This results in Lambis’ death and Nikki and Mark escaping Stratos’ clutches and running further away from him. They soon come upon an old ruin of sorts.
While resting in the ruin, Mark finally tells Nikky the whole story. It’s somewhat complicated, but basically Stratos stole some jewels in England and the blame was put on the caretaker of those jewels, i.e. Mark. Since then, Stratos has escaped with the jewels to Crete while Mark has been trying to find the jewels to clear his name. Mark suspects that Stratos has hidden them in the Bay of Dolphins and Stratos suspects that Nikky and her aunt are accomplices of Mark. There, all questions answered, right?
Anyway, Mark and Nikky rest at the ruins for the night and are discovered in the morning by a British man named Anthony Gamble, played by John Le Mesurier.
He says that he’s the British Consul in Crete and offers to take Mark and Nikky home with him to do his duty to “help His Majesty’s subjects” and take care of Mark’s wounds. And Mark and Nikky don’t question his identity nor ask for any proof that he is who he says he is. I mean, I feel that this man is up to no good! I feel he’s somehow working with Stratos. And I would be right!
Yep, apparently, Mr. Gamble is one of Stratos’ bosses in this whole jewel theft affair. Apparently, there’s an incredibly rich and eccentric lady in town named Madame Habib who is more than willing to buy the jewels from them and Mr. Gamble instructs Stratos to make sure he meets Madame Habib and deliver the goods.
Little by little, Mark and Nikky discover Mr. Gamble’s true identity and the plan for selling the jewels and soon escape and head for Madame Habib’s private yacht. While aboard the yacht, they manage to get the authorities aboard, capture Stratos, and recover the jewels. Madame Habib, played by Pola Negri in her last film role, goes scot-free as she seems to be oblivious to the fact that the jewels were stolen goods.
Aunt Frances is reunited with Nikky and Mark and they live happily ever after, I guess. What about Sophia, I hear you ask? Well, umm….
This film is an interesting one: it tries hard to be an epic thriller more than anything and is incredibly low on the usual light Disney fare and cheerfulness that we’re so used to seeing. While at times, the thrill of the film can be felt, most of the time it just feels to drag on and on and never go anywhere.
There are good things to it however: the acting is incredible as almost all the acting in old Disney films are, the landscapes of Crete (or wherever they filmed it) are quite beautiful to see and seem authentic, and…umm…well, yeah that’s about all the goodness I can find in it, but they’re two extremely good things!
If you’re a fan of Hayley Mills or Pola Negri, then I’d say give it a watch. If not, then…decide for yourself!
(You can click on the image below for an enlarged version of my rating sheet.)
So, the final score for this film is 24/35 = 68.57% (D+) !
The next review will be posted on April 21st.