The Sea Wolves (1981)

PG | 120 mins | Adventure | 5 June 1981

Director:

Andrew V. McLaglen

Writer:

Reginald Rose

Producer:

Euan Lloyd

Cinematographer:

Tony Imi

Editor:

John Glen

Production Designer:

Syd Cain
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HISTORY

Opening credits include the following statement: “This film is dedicated to the memory of the last Honorary Colonel of the Calcutta Light Horse, Admiral of the Fleet, The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, K.G., 1900 – 1979.”
       End credits include the following epilogue: “During the first 11 days of March 1943, U-boats sank 12 Allied ships in the Indian Ocean. After the Light Horse raid on Goa, only one ship was lost in the remainder of that month.”
       The following statements are also included: “End title pictures of the burning of Ehrenfels, Drachenfels and Braunfels (March 10, 1943) and their salvage eight years later by courtesy of Damodar Malgalji & Co. (Pvt) Ltd. of Panjim, Goa”; “The Producers wish to thank The Government of India; The Administration and peoples of Goa; The Roshanara Club, Old Delhi; Guy Collins, London, and to pay tribute to Commander B. S. Davies R.N., whose skill and courage at the helm of ‘Phoebe’ contributed so much to the success of the mission." The picture was “filmed entirely on location in India and West Germany and completed at Pinewood Studios, London, England by Richmond Light Horse Productions Ltd. for Varius A.G. An Anglo-American-Swiss Enterprise.”
       According to an article in the 24 May 1980 Screen International, while producer Euan Lloyd was recuperating from kidney surgery, his friend Ingeborg Muller gave him the novel, The Boarding Party, written by James Leasor. Production notes in AMPAS library files reported the book chronicled a top secret mission in World War II, and the details had never been made public until Leasor’s book was published in 1978. Lloyd believed it would ... More Less

Opening credits include the following statement: “This film is dedicated to the memory of the last Honorary Colonel of the Calcutta Light Horse, Admiral of the Fleet, The Earl Mountbatten of Burma, K.G., 1900 – 1979.”
       End credits include the following epilogue: “During the first 11 days of March 1943, U-boats sank 12 Allied ships in the Indian Ocean. After the Light Horse raid on Goa, only one ship was lost in the remainder of that month.”
       The following statements are also included: “End title pictures of the burning of Ehrenfels, Drachenfels and Braunfels (March 10, 1943) and their salvage eight years later by courtesy of Damodar Malgalji & Co. (Pvt) Ltd. of Panjim, Goa”; “The Producers wish to thank The Government of India; The Administration and peoples of Goa; The Roshanara Club, Old Delhi; Guy Collins, London, and to pay tribute to Commander B. S. Davies R.N., whose skill and courage at the helm of ‘Phoebe’ contributed so much to the success of the mission." The picture was “filmed entirely on location in India and West Germany and completed at Pinewood Studios, London, England by Richmond Light Horse Productions Ltd. for Varius A.G. An Anglo-American-Swiss Enterprise.”
       According to an article in the 24 May 1980 Screen International, while producer Euan Lloyd was recuperating from kidney surgery, his friend Ingeborg Muller gave him the novel, The Boarding Party, written by James Leasor. Production notes in AMPAS library files reported the book chronicled a top secret mission in World War II, and the details had never been made public until Leasor’s book was published in 1978. Lloyd believed it would make a “marvelous movie,” similar to his 1978 feature film, The Wild Geese, also developed from a novel, and he acquired screen rights of The Boarding Party for £75,000. Lloyd had worked with screenwriter Reginald Rose on The Wild Geese, and paid him $250,000 to write the screenplay for The Boarding Party. Working with his “long-time collaborator” and executive producer, Chris Chrisafis, Lloyd invested his own money and obtained “private bank financing” to set up the production, retitled The Sea Wolves. An item in the 21 Mar 1979 Var reported that Andrew V. McLaglen would direct, and principal photography was scheduled to begin Nov 1979, with Lloyd employing key creative staff from The Wild Geese. Lloyd also reportedly hoped to reunite The Wild Geese stars Richard Burton, Roger Moore, and Richard Harris. The 4 Jul 1979 Var noted it was uncertain if Burton or Harris would appear in the film, and the 29 Aug 1979 Var announced that Gregory Peck was hired. A separate item in the 29 Aug 1979 Var reported that Roger Moore, who had declined to star, changed his mind and would headline the film alongside Gregory Peck. The 24 Oct 1979 Var noted that actress Barbara Kellermann was making her feature film debut in The Sea Wolves.
       The 29 Aug 1979 Var reported the film’s budget was approximately $12 million, and the 24 May 1980 Screen International stated that Lorimar Productions put up half of the film’s budget in exchange for the domestic distribution rights. Principal photography began 26 Nov 1979, and production notes in AMPAS library files stated the movie was filmed on location in New Delhi and Goa, India. The first two weeks of principal photography were shot in New Delhi, and the rest of the three month schedule was filmed in Goa.
       The 27 Sep 1979 DV reported that United Artists had a distribution deal with Lorimar Productions and would handle domestic distribution. An item in the 2 Oct 1979 HR announced that Lorimar signed with Varius A.G. to “cofinance and manage worldwide distribution” of the film. The 3 Mar 1980 HR announced The Sea Wolves would be released in Jul 1980, with United Artists handling domestic distribution and Lorimar Distribution International distributing worldwide. The 9 Jul 1980 Var review reported the film premiered in London, England, on 4 Jul 1980. Articles in the 25 Jul 1980 DV , the 27 Aug 1980 Var, and the 20 Nov 1980 Var announced that Lorimar and United Artists ended their distribution deal early. The contract began 1 Jan 1979 and was set to expire at the end of 1981, but the pact was allowed to lapse and would be terminated by the end of 1980. United Artists had planned to release The Sea Wolves in Oct 1980, but the release was delayed while Lorimar sought a new distributor. In Nov 1980, Paramount Pictures contracted to handle domestic distribution of Lorimar’s films. The 12 Feb 1981 DV reported The Sea Wolves would be among the films that Paramount Pictures would test market, and depending on the results, it might be placed on Paramount’s 1981 release schedule. The 3 Jun 1981 Var and production notes announced the film’s first domestic release in New York City on 5 Jun 1981. The Sea Wolves was released in Los Angeles, CA, on 4 Jun 1982.
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
27 Sep 1979.
---
Daily Variety
25 Jul 1980.
---
Daily Variety
12 Feb 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 1980.
---
New York Times
5 Jun 1981
p. 8.
Screen International
24 May 1980.
---
Variety
21 Mar 1979.
---
Variety
4 Jul 1979.
---
Variety
29 Aug 1979.
---
Variety
24 Oct 1979.
---
Variety
9 Jul 1980
p. 18.
Variety
27 Aug 1980.
---
Variety
20 Nov 1980.
---
Variety
3 Jun 1981.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Lorimar Presents
A Euan Lloyd Production
An Andrew V. McLaglen Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Gaffer
2d unit cam
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Assembly ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dresser
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Orig mus by
SOUND
Dubbing ed
Dubbing ed
Dubbing ed
Chief dubbing mixer
Dubbing mixer
Dubbing mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles and graphic des by
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Chief makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv, Military
Tech adv, S.O.E.
Tech adv, C.L.H.
Tech adv, U-boat
Adv, German survivors of the raid
Adv, German survivors of the raid
Adv, German survivors of the raid
Adv, German survivors of the raid
Prod mgr
Prod assoc
Action arranger
Prod asst
Prod accountant
Prod liaison
Prod mgr, India
Unit mgr (Goa), India
Creative asst, India
Ministry liaison, India
Services supplied by, India
Services supplied by, India
Services supplied by, India
COLOR PERSONNEL
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Boarding Party by James Leasor (London, 1978).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"The Precious Moments," music by Richard Addinsell (from "The Warsaw Concerto"), lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, sung by Matt Monro.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Sea Wolves The Last Charge of the Calcutta Light Horse
Release Date:
5 June 1981
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 5 June 1981
Los Angeles opening: 2 June 1982
Production Date:
began 26 November 1979 in New Delhi and Goa, India
Copyright Claimant:
Master Mace, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
15 December 1983
Copyright Number:
PA198811
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Dolby Stereo
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex Camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
120
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, Switzerland, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26016
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

During World War II, German submarines receive the coordinates of Allied ships passing through the Indian Ocean. In Delhi, India, Colonel W. H. Grice stops at the Calcutta Light Horse club and listens to the news with other members of the Light Horse, a volunteer cavalry that last experienced action during the Boer War in 1900. Grice joins active Colonel Lewis Pugh for a drink and mentions that the Light Horse men are anxious to participate in the war effort. At Army headquarters, Pugh and Captain Gavin Stewart learn that German submarines sunk forty-six freighters in the last month. The transmitter is not in India, but is located on one of three German freighters harbored in Goa, a Portugese colony whose neutrality cannot be violated. Pugh and Stewart are dispatched to discover how the Germans are getting the information. At a hotel in Goa, Pugh meets with the owner, Manuel, while Stewart gambles upstairs. Pretending to be a tea merchant, Stewart flirts with a beautiful widow, Mrs. Cromwell. Meanwhile, Pugh questions Manuel about the Germans from the freighter Erenfehl, who are dining in the café. Manuel insists the only information he has is that an Indian with a mole on his cheek and a tall European man are communicating with each other. Mrs. Cromwell surreptitiously follows Stewart as he leaves the casino, and notices him join Pugh and Manuel. After the British officers leave, Mrs. Cromwell approaches Manuel, pulls a knife from her purse, and stabs him. Back in Delhi, Pugh reports on Manuel’s lead and reveals that he was murdered. ... +


During World War II, German submarines receive the coordinates of Allied ships passing through the Indian Ocean. In Delhi, India, Colonel W. H. Grice stops at the Calcutta Light Horse club and listens to the news with other members of the Light Horse, a volunteer cavalry that last experienced action during the Boer War in 1900. Grice joins active Colonel Lewis Pugh for a drink and mentions that the Light Horse men are anxious to participate in the war effort. At Army headquarters, Pugh and Captain Gavin Stewart learn that German submarines sunk forty-six freighters in the last month. The transmitter is not in India, but is located on one of three German freighters harbored in Goa, a Portugese colony whose neutrality cannot be violated. Pugh and Stewart are dispatched to discover how the Germans are getting the information. At a hotel in Goa, Pugh meets with the owner, Manuel, while Stewart gambles upstairs. Pretending to be a tea merchant, Stewart flirts with a beautiful widow, Mrs. Cromwell. Meanwhile, Pugh questions Manuel about the Germans from the freighter Erenfehl, who are dining in the café. Manuel insists the only information he has is that an Indian with a mole on his cheek and a tall European man are communicating with each other. Mrs. Cromwell surreptitiously follows Stewart as he leaves the casino, and notices him join Pugh and Manuel. After the British officers leave, Mrs. Cromwell approaches Manuel, pulls a knife from her purse, and stabs him. Back in Delhi, Pugh reports on Manuel’s lead and reveals that he was murdered. They are sent back to Goa to find the spy, but warned not to get caught. They locate Ram Das Gupta, the Indian with the mole, and threaten to kill him unless he leads them to his contact, a man named Trompeta. They follow Gupta to a café where he awaits his meeting. When Trompeta arrives, Gupta leaves and Trompeta follows. Pugh trails them, finds Gupta hiding in a doorway, and warns him to stay quiet. As Pugh follows Trompeta, he notices the man shake his head at two sailors from the Ehrenfels, then keep walking. Meanwhile, Mrs. Cromwell walks her dog past the café and Stewart, pretending to wait for a business associate, asks her to join him. She leaves before Pugh returns to the café, and as the men head to their hotel, Gupta sends two thugs after them. In the hotel, they debate whether to wait outside Trompeta’s home until he leaves or break in and kidnap him, and decide to act in the morning. Stewart asks to have the hotel room for awhile, so Pugh walks to the docks, where Gupta’s men attack him, but he knocks them unconscious. Meanwhile, Mrs. Cromwell joins Stewart in the hotel and they make love. Gupta breaks into the room and threatens to shoot them, but Stewart kills him. Pugh returns, sees the dead body, and introduces himself as Stewart’s boss at the tea company. Mrs. Cromwell does not want to be involved with the police, and leaves. The next morning, Pugh and Stewart kidnap Trompeta, not realizing Mrs. Cromwell is inside, watching them. As they drive away, Trompeta fights to get his hands on a gun, and is shot dead. The British officers cannot have Trompeta’s body discovered in Goa, and bribe a ferry guard to get them across the border. Pugh and Stewart return to Delhi and reveal the transmitter is on the Ehrenfel. Their boss would like to have commandos blow up the ship, but he cannot. Pugh proposes that the Calcutta Light Horse carry out the mission while pretending to be a group of British businessmen on holiday. Although the Light Horse men have not seen action for forty years, they know weapons and tactics. Their boss thinks it is insane, but agrees to the plan. Pugh and Stewart meet with Grice, but insist his Light Horse men cannot know the information and will only be told it is a top secret mission with no pay and no credit. When Grice assembles the Light Horse men, everyone wants to participate, but less than twenty are needed. Meanwhile, on the Ehrenfel, Trompeta’s kidnapping puts the Germans on alert and they prepare for an attack by loading the deck with oil drums and adding searchlights. Elsewhere, Mrs. Cromwell passes general information to a German officer and promises to provide details later. Meanwhile, the Light Horse men prepare for their mission. Grice is in charge of a small crew that will travel by boat to Goa. The others will travel by train, meet up with Grice, sail into the harbor, blow up the ship and escape. Jack, who was not chosen for the team, argues that he wants to help and Stewart agrees to take him to Goa to set up distractions for the German crews. Pugh and Stewart also solicit the participation of explosives expert, Major Yogi Crossley. Grice’s team obtains a rickety boat named Phoebe and the plan is set in motion. In Goa, Stewart meets with Senor Montera and bribes him to arrange a reception for port officials and German officers, while simultaneously hosting a carnival to attract the crews. Stewart finds Mrs. Cromwell in a casino and persuades her to join him for a drink. Later, Stewart showers after they make love and she sneaks an impression of his room key. Meanwhile, Jack visits the local brothel and finances three days of free visits to prostitutes for the German sailors. Later, the Light Horse train team arrives and boards the Phoebe. At the hotel, Jack rests while Stewart leaves to meet Mrs. Cromwell. However, after Stewart leaves, she searches his hotel room and finds an invitation to Montera’s reception. When Jack investigates the noise in Stewart’s room, Mrs. Cromwell stabs him to death. She then meets Stewart at a church and offers to attend Montera’s reception with him. She provides her address, which Stewart recognizes as Trompeta’s home, but does not say anything. After Stewart leaves, Mrs. Cromwell secretly passes the coordinates of an American carrier to a German officer. Later, aboard the Ehrenfels, the radio operators get the coordinates and plan to transmit them to a submarine at 1:30 A.M. Elsewhere, aboard the Phoebe, the men learn the details of their imminent mission, but engine problems delay them for a few hours. In Goa, the carnival attracts crowds and soldiers flock to the brothel. At the hotel, Stewart discovers Jack’s body and secretly removes it. Mrs. Cromwell leaves her home early, and when Stewart arrives, he walks into a trap with the German officer and another thug. Stewart kills them, but is wounded in the arm. He finds Mrs. Cromwell at the dance and apologizes for being late, claiming he went to the wrong address. When they retreat to a private office to kiss, she slips a knife out of her purse to stab him, but Stewart anticipates her action, gets the knife, and stabs her. The carnival’s fireworks begin as the Phoebe pulls near the Ehrenfels. As Crosley and his team plant mines on the three freighters, other Light Horse men board the Ehrenfels. Pugh shoots a German soldier who spots them, and they sneak behind sailors watching the fireworks and tie them to the ship. They meet some resistance from the skeleton crew, but capture most of the Germans. Pugh and Crossley find the radio room as the transmission begins. They kill the operators, stop the transmission, and get the code books. Crosley and a few others are wounded in the mission, and, as Pugh frees the Germans shackled on deck and allows them to jump overboard, a rogue German soldier starts shooting. Pugh kills him, and is shot in the process, but leaves with the rest of his men. Despite engine troubles, they sail away before the mines explode and the three German freighters are destroyed. +

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

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