Sunday, June 6, 2021

Flight of the Doves

Back on St. Patrick's Day, TCM ran Flight of the Doves. I recently checked, and it seems to have received a DVD release courtesy of Columbia's MOD scheme, so I sat down to watch it.

Jack Wild plays Finn Dove, a 13-year-old kid who is protective of his kid sister Derval (Helen Raye). They live in Liverpool with their stepfather Tobias Cromwell (William Rushton), their dad having died, Mom having remarried, and then dying herself. Tobias doesn't really care much for the kids, and if anything is somewhat abusive to them. The one memory the two kids have of their old family is a picture postcard of Grandma's (Dorothy McGuire) family homestead in Co. Galway, Ireland.

So Finn decides he's going to run away from his stepfather, taking Derval with him, and trying to get first across the Irish Sea and then to Galway. But they do so before learning that they are the heirs to a $10,000 estate. Learning about it is the kid's uncle, John Cyril Dove, nicknamed Hawk (Ron Moody). Hawk is a magician and actor, and a master of disguise, although the one thing he can't disguise is the hawk tattoo on his wrist. One of the terms of the will is that, if the kids are to die, then the estate should go to Hawk Dove. Hawk decides he's going to look for the runaway children and kill them in order that he can get the estate. What a nice uncle.

Thus begins a trip across Ireland, with the two children trying to stay one step ahead of both their uncle, and the police, who if they find the kids are going to return them to Tobias, since he is more or less their legal guardian.

Flight of the Doves was filmed on location in Ireland, and the vintage scenes of Ireland as it looked circa 1970 are nice Although there's an obvious threat from Hawk Dove, the plot really plays out more like a Disney movie, with the violence, while not cartoonish, being more something that kids can relate to. Mildly frightening for kids without being too frightening.

There's some nice incidental humor, most notably in the scene when the kids try to escape by going into what, unbeknownst to them, is a synagogue. For some reason I couldn't help but think of the scene in The Prize in which Paul Newman winds up at a meeting of nudists.

On the other hand, the producers seemed to have the American audience in minds by coming up with some rather doe-eyed musical numbers, one on St. Patrick's Day in Dublin, and another with a group of Irish Travellers. Both of these bring the movie to a screeching halt. For an adult, Derval might come across as mildly annoying. But to be fair, she's a seven-year-old girl and the sort of immaturity she shows is actually age-appropriate.

Flight of the Doves is more of a family movie, but even for those of us without families, it's not exactly bad by any means.

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