Director: Andrew Grieve
Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Robert Lindsay, Paul McGann, Lorcan Cranitch, Julia Sawalha, Tony Haygarth, Paul Copley, Sean Gilder, Greg Wise, Christian Coulson, Ron Cook, Jonathan Coy
Synopsis: Hornblower is languishing on a Lieutenant’s half-pay during peace with France, the peace having been declared before his promotion to Commander could be confirmed by the admiralty. In his cheap lodgings, he has won the heart of his landlady’s daughter. He come across Lieutenant Bush at this time, just as Admiral Pellew gives Hornblower a secret mission to France, promoting him to Commander in the process. He takes command of the Hotspur, bringing Bush along as his First Lieutenant.
A review by Film Nerd.
As with the last two-part story, I have opted to review these two television movies together, even though the two-story arc is less well-defined then in the last case. What connects the two is Hornblower’s relationship with Maria Mason (Julia Sawalha, previously seen in the TV series Press Gang, and as Lydia in the BBC’s definitive Pride and Prejudice miniseries). He meets her when he is languishing on half-pay, barely able to make his rent. It is a relationship the defines Hornblower in the next few books of the series, a bond forged more out of obligation than affection. Sadly, given the demise of the series, the relationship was not explored further than this point.
In showing the fleet during peace time, the success of the franchise is once again apparent in shedding light onto the concerns of officers serving in His Majesty’s navy in this time period. We soon get back into the real action though, with Hornblower getting a command, much due to the good graces of Admiral Pellew. The joy of these current stories are getting to delve into Hornblower’s loyalty to both superior and inferior officer’s, as we finally get to also see his relationship with Lieutenant Bush in full bloom.
And yet, I still haven’t even got around to any of the missions Hornblower is sent on here, which is really half the fun. Suffice it to say that the peace does not last long, and we get action on the high seas galore, with traitor’s in our favourite Commander’s own crew that come back to haunt us, cowardly midshipmen (former young Tom Riddle, Coulson), an uneasy alliance with a French Royalist Major (Wise), and also being stuck right in the middle of major international political intrigue.
This is certainly the series at its peak, with Hornblower finally in command, and perhaps the saddest point for it to end. It is fortunate we have the Gregory Peck film to follow this up for, even though it is based 15 years after the point here observed, it is just enough of a stepping stone to keep the storyline somewhat continuous.
4.5 stars (out of a possible 5)
Horatio Hornblower: Loyalty on IMDB
Horatio Hornblower: Loyalty on Rotten Tomatoes
Horatio Hornblower: Duty on IMDB
Horatio Hornblower: Duty on Rotten Tomatoes