The House of the Seven Hawks (1959)

90-92 mins | Mystery | 6 November 1959

Director:

Richard Thorpe

Writer:

Jo Eisinger

Cinematographer:

Ted Scaife

Editor:

Ernest Walter

Production Designer:

Bill Andrews
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HISTORY

The working title of the film was The House of the Seven Flies . Portions of the story also were based on another Victor Canning short story, House of Fear , which was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post (2 Aug--6 Sep 1952). According to news items in NYT and the trade publications, M-G-M acquired the rights to Canning's novel in Mar 1952. The news items add that the author was coming from Britain to the United States to work on the screenplay, but Canning's contribution to the final film is doubtful. The film was shot at M-G-M's Borehamwood Studios near London, and on location in Holland at The Hague, Massaluis and the Hook of Holland. The House of the Seven Hawks was the last film made by Robert Taylor under his twenty-five year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, although he returned for one picture, the 1963 film Cattle King (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ... More Less

The working title of the film was The House of the Seven Flies . Portions of the story also were based on another Victor Canning short story, House of Fear , which was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post (2 Aug--6 Sep 1952). According to news items in NYT and the trade publications, M-G-M acquired the rights to Canning's novel in Mar 1952. The news items add that the author was coming from Britain to the United States to work on the screenplay, but Canning's contribution to the final film is doubtful. The film was shot at M-G-M's Borehamwood Studios near London, and on location in Holland at The Hague, Massaluis and the Hook of Holland. The House of the Seven Hawks was the last film made by Robert Taylor under his twenty-five year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, although he returned for one picture, the 1963 film Cattle King (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
16 Nov 1959.
---
Daily Variety
31 Mar 1952.
---
Daily Variety
10 Nov 59
p. 3.
Film Daily
30 Nov 59
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
29 May 59
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jun 59
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Nov 59
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
14 Nov 59
p. 484.
New York Times
16 Mar 1952.
---
New York Times
17 Dec 59
p. 51.
Variety
11 Jan 59
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A David E. Rose Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Stills cam
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus comp
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairdressing
PRODUCTION MISC
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The House of the Seven Flies by Victor Canning (New York, 1952).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The House of the Seven Flies
Release Date:
6 November 1959
Production Date:
late May--mid June 1959 at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Boreham Wood, Elstree, England
Copyright Claimant:
Coronado Productions (England) Ltd.
Copyright Date:
6 October 1959
Copyright Number:
LP14742
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
90-92
Length(in feet):
8,251
Length(in reels):
11
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19404
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

At the port of Baymouth, American John Nordley, who operates the charter boat the Aloha , takes on a passenger named Mr. Anselm, who wishes to go to Holland. As they approach their destination, John enters Anselm's cabin and finds him dead. He is soon approached by a young woman in a motorboat, who identifies herself as Anselm's daughter and asks to see the body. The woman immediately takes Anselm's money, then flees when John enters the cabin. Suspicious, John, who had earlier noticed an envelope taped to the dead man's chest, removes the document and locks it in his safe. At the port, John is met by a police officer, who takes one look at Anselm and tells John his passenger was actually Inspector Sluiter of The Hague police. John is taken in for questioning by Hoff Commissar Van Der Stoor, who reveals that Sluiter was in London on an official police investigation and should have returned with an important letter. Van Der Stoor then brings in Sluiter's daughter Constanta, who is not the woman who boarded John's boat. Van Der Stoor says that Sluiter, who was diabetic, was murdered when, prior to his boarding, someone replaced his medication with insulin capsules containing ten times the proper dosage. The police hold John as a material witness, but he is released when an anonymous party posts his bail and reserves a hotel room for him. At the hotel, John arranges a meeting with his friend Charlie Ponz, then enters his room and finds a man named Wilhelm Dekker waiting for him. Dekker takes John to see the mysterious Capt. Rohner, who asks him about Sluiter's belongings. ... +


At the port of Baymouth, American John Nordley, who operates the charter boat the Aloha , takes on a passenger named Mr. Anselm, who wishes to go to Holland. As they approach their destination, John enters Anselm's cabin and finds him dead. He is soon approached by a young woman in a motorboat, who identifies herself as Anselm's daughter and asks to see the body. The woman immediately takes Anselm's money, then flees when John enters the cabin. Suspicious, John, who had earlier noticed an envelope taped to the dead man's chest, removes the document and locks it in his safe. At the port, John is met by a police officer, who takes one look at Anselm and tells John his passenger was actually Inspector Sluiter of The Hague police. John is taken in for questioning by Hoff Commissar Van Der Stoor, who reveals that Sluiter was in London on an official police investigation and should have returned with an important letter. Van Der Stoor then brings in Sluiter's daughter Constanta, who is not the woman who boarded John's boat. Van Der Stoor says that Sluiter, who was diabetic, was murdered when, prior to his boarding, someone replaced his medication with insulin capsules containing ten times the proper dosage. The police hold John as a material witness, but he is released when an anonymous party posts his bail and reserves a hotel room for him. At the hotel, John arranges a meeting with his friend Charlie Ponz, then enters his room and finds a man named Wilhelm Dekker waiting for him. Dekker takes John to see the mysterious Capt. Rohner, who asks him about Sluiter's belongings. John evades Rohner's questions, and as he is walking out, Elsa, the woman who boarded his ship earlier, comes into the room. John goes to a waterfront bar and meets the disreputable but charming Charlie, and asks for his help getting past the police guarding his boat. Back at his hotel, John gets a call from Elsa and goes to her apartment. Elsa tells him Rohner ordered her to go aboard his ship and look for an envelope, adding fearfully that Rohner believes she is withholding the envelope from him. John notices Dekker outside and accompanies him to see Rohner, who says Elsa was the one who switched Sluiter's insulin capsules. Rohner then explains that he was in charge of the garrison during the Nazi occupation, and made a pact with a banker named Maserling to smuggle funds into Berlin. The launch carrying the funds was sunk by Dutch partisans and Maserling, who was disguised as a German officer, was taken into custody by the English. Rohner says that before his capture, Maserling had prepared an overlay showing the location of the sunken treasure. He adds that Maserling died the previous week and Sluiter, who had been working on the case for years, made a deal with Rohner to deliver the overlay to him. Rohner offers John a large sum of money for the overlay, but John demands Sluiter's cut. John then returns to Elsa's apartment and finds her murdered. He immediately has Charlie accompany him to the Aloha , and while Charlie distracts the police, John sneaks aboard and opens his safe, only to find the envelope containing the overlay missing. John calls on Constanta and discovers that she has the envelope in her purse. Constanta explains the information on the overlay for him, identifying the chief landmark as an island known as the House of the Seven Hawks. John and Constanta arrange with Charlie to sail at dawn in search of the sunken ship, but after Charlie watches the couple kiss outside the bar, he calls Van Der Stoor and informs him that John plans to leave Holland. Charlie than places a call to Rohner. The following morning, John, Charlie and Constanta take a boat and locate the launch, but before John can remove the strongbox from the cabin, Rohner arrives with Dekker and his henchman Pieter. Rohner decides to wait for low tide to have Pieter dive, so Charlie takes John and Constanta to the island and holds them hostage in a farmhouse inhabited by a kindly elderly couple. John notices a clock in the house bearing the name of the launch and asks the farmer, Beukleman, where he got it. The old man replies that near the end of the war he took in a wounded German captain, who told him about the launch. Beukleman admits he removed valuable objects from the launch, feeling entitled to reparations for the damage the Germans inflicted on his farm. John relates Beukleman's story to Charlie, pointing out that the "German captain" was Maserling, and offers to split the fortune with Charlie if he will shift allegiances again. The pragmatic Charlie agrees and knocks Dekker out. Buckerman shows John and Charlie where he has buried the treasure, and they are surprised to find bags of diamonds. Rohner and Pieter return empty-handed from the launch and engage in a gunfight with John until the police arrive. John, Charlie and Constanta escape the island and go to Van Der Stoor. John hands over the diamonds, admitting to the astonished Charlie that he had been cooperating with the police all along. Van Der Stoor releases John's ship and offers him a large reward. When John declines the reward, Van Der Stoor says the money will go to Constanta. At the port, John asks Constanta to return with him to Baymouth, and she happily agrees. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.