The House of the Seven Hawks was a solid adventure story and it was well received by the New York Times. This is their review:
The House of the Seven Hawks (1959)
Mystery From Britain
December 17, 1959
by A. H. Weiler
ALTHOUGH producer David Rose and his skilled company obviously were not being imitative, they have flatteringly followed the format of the successful British mystery makers in fashioning “The House of Seven Hawks,” which landed yesterday at neighborhood theatres around town. For this suspense yarn filmed in England and in the Netherlands for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, is a neat package of economical dialogue, a satisfyingly labyrinthine plot and carefully paced direction and underplaying that adds up to a modest but truly taut and absorbing diversion.
Perhaps Jo Eisinger’s script does not explain why Robert Taylor, an American, happens to be the skipper of a charter boat in England taking a clandestine trip to the continent with a clandestine passenger. But enough interesting red herrings follow this voyage to the Netherlands to please the more demanding of the whodunit fans. He finds his passenger dead before arrival. He is a man who had been carrying a cryptic map and a dispatch case full of currency, and, it evolves eventually, had a record as a Dutch detective searching for a million-dollar cache of loot taken as far back as the Nazi invasion.
As a hapless fugitive who is a prime suspect of The Hague’s police and a gent sought by the dastards anxious to lay covetous hands on this king-sized boodle, Mr. Taylor naturally is involved with sinister citizens, a couple of mysterious but highly decorative dames and, of course, the police. To the credit of Richard Thorpe, the director, and his crew, the mystery, search and chase are given added color by advantageous use of the natural locales of The Hague.
Except for the climactic set-to, which is a standard shoot-’em-up affair, Mr. Thorpe and his troupe are oblique but adroit in their approach to their story. Although he is a somewhat lean, gaunt and subdued hero, Mr. Taylor looks and acts the part of a beleaguered but tough citizen who can figure and fight his way out of a bizarre mess.
The British add their professional acting aid to Mr. Taylor and the film’s cause. Count among them Donald Wolfit, as a wily Dutch police chief; Eric Pohlmann and David Kossoff, as, respectively, a threatening and a timid villain, and Philo Hauser, as a humorous two-timer who loves to be involved in double dealing “because,” as he says, grinning, “it’s my nature.” As the ladies of this whodunit. Linda Christian, who plays a conniver, and Nicole Maurey, as Mr. Taylor’s romantic vis-à-vis, are, as noted, decorative.
It is still a mystery why the title was changed from “The House of Seven Flies” to “The House of Seven Hawks,” but it is eminently clear that this is an unpretentious but satisfying entertainment.
THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN HAWKS; screen play by Jo Elsinger; from the novel. “The House of the Seven Flies” by Victor Canning; directed by Richard Thorpe; produced by David E. Rose for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. At neighborhood theatres. Running time: ninety-two minutes.
John Nordley . . . . . Robert Taylor
Constanta . . . . . Nicole Maurey
Elsa . . . . . Linda Christian
Hoff Commissar Van Der Stoor . . . . . Donald Wolfit
Wilheim Dekker . . . . . David Kossoff
Inspector Sluiter (Mr. Anselm) . . . . . Gerard Heinz
Captain Rohner . . . . . Eric Pohlmann
Charlie Ponz . . . . . Philo Hauser
This is a review of House of the Seven Hawks I wrote for the IMDB.
House of the Seven Hawks was released in December 1959, when its star, Robert Taylor, was forty-eight years old. It is a mystery based on Victor Canning’s best selling book, House of the Seven Flies. The plot concerns John Nordley, an American ex-pat who lives in Britain and runs a charter boat. Captain Nordley is flung into a convoluted situation involving dead policemen, ex-Nazis, scheming women, creepy crooks and innocent daughters.
The New York Times called the movie “a satisfying labyrinthine plot and carefully placed direction and underplaying that adds up to a modest but truly taut and absorbing diversion.” The director is Richard Thorpe, who had worked with Taylor before in six other movies, including The Crowd Roars, Ivanhoe and Knights of the Round Table.
Despite being basically a suspense film House of the Seven Hawks has a considerable comic undertone. Robert Taylor plays Nordley as the only sane man in a nest of loonies. No one is what they are supposed to be, with people assuming false identities and numerous double-crosses.
Other than Taylor, the cast is European. Nicole Maurey plays the love interest. Linda Christian is a one of the double-crossers. Donald Wolfitt and Gerard Heinz are policemen. David Kossoff, Eric Pohlmann and Philo Hauser are villains. The story ends with a diving expedition to recover stolen treasure and a satisfying shoot-out.
I’m not sure Robert Taylor took this movie terribly seriously. He wears the same costume throughout the film, including an Eisenhower jacket that he had made for himself. He does a little mugging, especially when Nordley is being asked to believe one fantastic lie after another. Far from being wooden, he displays considerable facial flexibility. Mr. Taylor does look as though he’s having fun.
MGM seems to be insisting that Mr. Taylor is much younger than his actual age. Nicole Maurey is too young for him. He is referred to in one scene as a young man. As in so many films the story gets him out of his clothes. The Taylor body is in good shape for a 48 year old, but it’s not the body he had twenty years earlier. Nonetheless this film provides good, undemanding and ultimately satisfying entertainment.
Splendid memory jog Judith. Your blog retrieved memories of this film long forgotten as I saw it but once when it was first released. Like others I have waited in vain for it to be shown on cable but now that I will be visiting America next month I will get a copy there. Thanks again for keeping us all updated.
Good review. I found the plot rather hard to follow but since I was mainly just looking at Mr.Taylor I guess that was to be expected. Would have liked it better in color. To change the subject briefly if I may, could you possibly tell me how to contact Linda J. Alexander without getting on Facebook, which I avoid like the plague. (My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.) We have corresponded in the past about her “Reluctant Witness” book & she incorporated some of my suggestions in her second printing. We both had serious illnesses in 2011 & I would like to know how she’s doing. I was between chemo treatments 1 & 2 in August 2011 & could not possibly attend the 100th birthday party in Nebraska.
As you say, who needs plots when you’re watching Robert Taylor? I’ll message Linda Alexander on Facebook and ask her to contact you directly. All the best.
Sorry if I was out of line asking a personal question but I would like to contact Linda J. Alexander by email directly if possible. Her email has changed. I hope she is well. She created the “Robert Taylor Movie Star” web site which is no longer working & the last I read about her was that she & her husband were planning to move.
You’re not out of line at all. I’ll message her now.
Thanks as always for your comment, June. It’s fun to share memories, isn’t it?
Heard from Linda today. Thanks, “giraffe”!
Glad to help. 🙂
When I was a kid every time the, Eagle theater showed the movie with Robert Taylor House of seven hawks I never missed a showing, so much action Taylor was at his best next to lvan Ho this this was one of his best
I always liked this film. It’s very different from Ivanhoe but also a good movie. Thanks for writing.
Hi Judith finally found this movie #RobertTaylor #TheHouseOfTheSevenHawks… watching now….
Hi, Becky, I remember going with my mother to see this in a theatre. She was a fan too. Judith
Hi Judith, That is cool about seeing it in a theater with your Mother…. I actually liked the movie and loved that #RobertTaylor got down to his swim trunks… 🙂
Becky, Mr. Taylor looked good for a man in his late forties, didn’t he? Judith
Hi Judith, Love this about #RobertTaylor > Eisenhower jacket that he had made for himself. I know he was a huge IKE fan & voted or him…. Love it!!!!
Yes 👍 it’s a great movie I have it ,took me a long time to find it Robert Taylor it’s great the movie have a great day. Ho PS I just found Desert fury with Burt Lancaster
Will, It wounds like you’re doing well in your movie hunt. Thanks for writing. Judith
Hi, Becky, yes, and Ike sent him good well wishes when Mr. Taylor was so sick. Judith
Yes #RobertTaylor always HOT! As for IKE… WOW!
Becky, have you seen “Valley of the Kings?” He was never hotter (and not just because they’re in Egypt). Eleanor Parker and some other women dressed up as belly dancers and invaded Mr. Taylor’s bedroom while he was in bed. When I was a child, I used to send Ike birthday cards and would receive an engraved thank you. Judith
“Valley of the Kings” is on TCM on April 17.
Yes Robert Taylor hot.. Valley of the Kings…. I have seen that Movie so many times… So funny about the belly dancers in Taylor’s room….
As for IKE… that is s cool!
Mr. Taylor apparently tried belly dancing himself. See Robert Taylor Belly Dancer on this blog.