Title: Horatio Hornblower: The Duchess and the Devil
Film Date: Premiered April 18, 1999
Synopsis: Acting Lieutenant Horatio Hornblower captures the French vessel, Le Reve, and is tasked by Captain Pellew with sailing her back to England as well as returning the Duchess of Wharfedale home. But shortly after beginning their journey, the ship, Hornblower, the Duchess and the crew are captured by the Spanish with Horatio and his men ending up in prison. It's there the story really begins a Horatio is reunited with his
Oh, and if you haven't yet seen the Hornblower films (And why haven't you???), yes, I skipped over The Duel which introduced Horatio, and more importantly, Archie to the TV viewing world. See, The Duchess and the Devil is my favorite film in the series and it's my comm so I get to jump ahead if I want. :) All you really need to know from the first film is Hornblower is not the confidant, slightly cocky sailor we see here. He often feels like he's in way over his head. And poor Archie's been abused horribly by a sadistic shipmate, Simpson, leading Archie to frequently have violent 'fits'. Very inconveniently, he has one just as they are about to board an enemy ship, forcing Horatio to knock him out. The last we, and Horatio, see of Archie is as he's floating away on a boat and presumed dead. Oh, yeah, and Horatio kills that bastard Simpson in a duel, hence the name of the film. ;)
Worth Watching? Most Definitely. Archie Kennedy is arguably Jamie's second best role, assuming your me and would argue Lee Adama is his best role. Also on a personal note, I didn't get the whole slash thing until I saw this film.
Does he live or die? In this particular film, Archie is presumed dead and found alive. Thank you Hornblower producers! As for later in the series.....
The story opens with Horatio and his men, including not long for the series Mr. Hunter, hiding behind some rocks, waiting for approaching French soldiers carrying barrels. Mr. Hunter wants to start picking off the soldiers, but Horatio has other ideas. They easily overtake them (that will teach the French for wanting fresh drinking water!) and, as part of Horatio's cunning plan, the men disguise themselves as the soldiers to board the French ship Le Reve. There's fighting, Hunter unleashes his anger issues on the French, and a small annoying child gets tossed overboard. Because Horatio's gun fails to fire, Mr. Hunter finally gets to kill someone and Horatio, in turn, asks for the Captain's surrender.
Returning to his ship, the Indefatigable, Captain Pellew offers Horatio congratulations on his achievement. Seems the capture of the ship was the first successful action the squadron had seen in the six weeks since the blockade started. He commends Horatio for a his good plan and excellent execution of it, BUT Horatio's plan has also made him rich and that's really why he wanted the Indefatigable (from here on out to be known as the Indy) out of sight, so it's captain, officers and men would have none if it! Er Oh, Dad's not happy! Horatio gets all huffy and begins to protest...until Lieutenant Bracegirdle points out the captain is joking. Ah, naval humor.
Now Horatio is a thousand pounds richer, Pellew suggests he use some of the money to buy a new uniform and recommends a place in Portsmouth. Seems Horatio has been called back to England. But before heading home, the presence of Pellew and Horatio has been requested at a dinner hosted by Major General Sir Hew and Lady Dalrymple.
After nervous preparation for the dinner, including Hunter trying to find ways to make Horatio look foolish and Bracegirdle loaning Horatio stockings, we're off to dinner. Amongst the guests is The Duchess of Wharfedale, whose accent, demeanor and chugging of wine should have tipped someone off that perhaps she's not who she says she is.
During dinner, Horatio learns he's been given the "honor" of hauling her grace back to England. Yep, steal a ship, make a fortune and what do you get in return? Annoying cargo. Further, the Major General speculates the Spanish will not leave Cadiz and will sit out the war until there is a victor to congratulate while Horatio wonders why they would build such a large force and not use it? Guess who is going to turn out to be right? Go on, guess.
But wait! Pellew has another surprise for Horatio! He's to deliver dispatches to the Admiralty which contain Very Important Information. If they happen to be boarded, the documents need to go to the bottom of the sea.
Once at sea, we learn that a) the Duchess does not travel well, b) someone went crazy with the smoke machines, um, fog has set in and c) they can't risk not clearing Cape St Vincent so Horatio orders Matthews to alter course. Hunter contends there is plenty of sea room and altering course will only delay them. Horatio counters with, "Thank you, Mr Hunter. When I need your opinion, I'll be sure to ask for it." Oh, SNAP! Though, look, it's the Spanish! Somewhere in the fog! So much, for not leaving Cadiz.
Horatio orders Hunter to raise the French colors, hoping they won't fire on their allies. He also hopes for the fog to hold, so you know it won't. And with the Spanish within spitting distance he begins to worry about the Very Important Papers he's holding.
Eventually, the men swap their uniforms for French ones, a bunch of strategizing goes on and none of it seems to be going particularly well. The suspense of what the Spaniards and Horatio will do next might interest me if I cared at all about military strategy and battles, but I'm in this for the cute boys. Finally, Horatio must admit defeat and tells everyone to get back in uniform to be taken as the British soldiers they are.
The Duchess walks in on Horatio working to dispose of the papers. Since she is in all likelihood to be returned to England, she offers to hide them in her skirts because who would dare would search her there. Really?
Some Spanish Captain dude informs Horatio and the gang they are to be hauled off to prison to keep them safe for the rest of the war. Yes! FINALLY! Let's get to the good stuff.....
Upon arriving on shore, the locals throw produce at them. Hunter picks up a piece to throw back, but Horatio stops him. Because he's not twelve.
As Horatio and Hunter settle into their home away from home, Hunter sits down on a very lumpy mattress. That moves. And whimpers. This is not your typical mattress behavior. It causes Hunter to jump up with a start. As he slowly pulls back the blanket, because the slow pull back always prevents something from jumping out at you, what is revealed is.....
Horatio: "My God, Kennedy." Yeah, he's as shocked to see him as we are given Jamie was only signed to the first film.
If you thought Archie would be happy to see his old pal, you would be wrong. He immediately starts crying out, "No" and "Go Away!" Hunter, unmoved by the reunion, wants to start planning their escape before they end up like him. Horatio agrees with the idea, but emphasizes they will take HIM with them. Hunter points out that will be difficult since Archie has lost the use of his mind and his legs. How he knows all this from his ten seconds of interaction with Archie is beyond me.
Horatio doesn't know how Archie ended up in there and in this state (here's an idea, ask), but he's a midshipman from the Indy, just like them, was captured in action (which he may have had something to do with and would prefer not talking about) and asks Hunter if they should leave one of their own behind? Hunter agrees, but points out that it will make their escape much harder. Horatio responds then success will be that much more satisfying, with a smirk. I really don't blame Hunter for sighing and walking away.
Horatio tries talking to Archie, instead of talking about him behind his back, literally. He starts by stating he needs his help, then amends it to "we", because it can't just be about him
Later, Hunter points out Archie's given up. He wants to die. Horatio continues to argue he won't leave one of his men behind and Hunter brings up the story he heard, the one Horatio's been trying to avoid, about Archie having a fit and Horatio having to knock him out. Horatio points out he wasn't there and doesn't comprehend the circumstances. Which, Hunter, you really don't want to know the details. To change the subject, Horatio starts questioning Hunter about their situation and manages to make him realize they need to do some recon before making their escape.
That night, or some night, the timeline seems impossible to follow, Archie has a fit. Horatio, quite the sound sleeper, eventually wakes up and tries to comfort his friend. Including stroking his hair and straightening up his shirt. Yeah, that's normal behavior between 'friends'.
Archie realizes he's had a fit and tells Horatio, "Strange, I had not been troubled by them. Not until you came." Ouch. Archie then declares he will not go back to the Indy. Another blow! And this might have been a good time for Horatio to mention to Archie that his tormentor, Simpson, was dead, but, no.
The men are getting anxious to bolt. Horatio, again, doesn't want to leave until Archie is well enough to go with them. He comes up with reasons to stall (though also fairly legitimate reasons why they need more recon). Once back in their cell, Hunter beats rocks against the floor to makes a weapon (it's the thing to do in prison), Archie does more wall staring, and Horatio wonders what good rocks will do against guns and rolls his eyes. The Duchess, who, Surprise!, is back in Spain, visits with an invitation for Horatio to come with her.
Don Massaredo (the prison warden) is introduced. The Duchess has asked that Horatio be allowed two hours of exercise daily. The Don is happy to oblige and allow him to accompany her on her walks, but he must first ask for his parole, as a gentleman, that he not try to escape. This scene seems oddly familiar (See: Battlestar Galactica: Scattered). Horatio gives his word, but also adds that outside the hours of his parole he considers it his duty to attempt to return to his ship and country.
Cut back to the cell and we see Archie pouring his soup on the ground. He does take some bread, but Hunter maneuvers to get it away from him. Because, for Hunter, the sooner Archie starves himself to death the sooner they can go.
During their walk and talk, the Duchess explains to Horatio why she is back. She was caught in a battle, blah, blah. He asks about the dispatches. She jokes she gave them up for a good room. Horatio is not amused. But she presses on and informs Horatio that everyday at five she wants to meet for "conversations". Sadly, that's not a euphemism. She explains when he's an admiral and in society that's what will be expected of him - conversation, quips, anecdotes and the like.
Horatio returns to his cell and Hunter, sarcastically, asks about his walk. Horatio, half-heartedly, says it was interminable. Hunter's paranoid belief that Horatio wants to sit out the war seems to be growing. And Archie stares at Horatio, but at least it's not the wall for a change.
The next(?) day we see Horatio shave. This begs two questions. The Spanish arm their prisoners? And who has been shaving Archie???
The Duchess arrives baring gifts. Fruit from the Don's orchard. Horatio orders three cheers for her grace. But Hunter will not be bought! He embraces the onset of scurvy! After the two leave, he does a little fruit stomping dance.
Archie looks from the window, which is to the side and well above his bed. So apparently Mr. I Can't Walk can stand. And no one seems to notice this but me. He also has a strange expression that tells me he's either coveting the fruit or the Duchess is looking familiar and this will lead to a plot revelation later on.
Days? Weeks? pass and it's raining so no walk for Horatio. Archie comments it must be something, to walk in the sun with such a lovely woman. Then appears to....die. Seriously, Archie looks like he's taken his last breath and I don't think mouth to mouth was widely in use yet.
Slow on the uptake Horatio asks Archie if he has a sweetheart back in England. I guess it never occurred to Horatio to ask that question in all the time they served together. Or maybe he was afraid of the answer. But now that all they have is each other in prison...moving on. When Archie fails to answer, Horatio realizes his friend is even in more dire condition than he thought. He races to the door to holler for help. Then asks Hunter to get help. Because he can holler louder? It's not like he can go anywhere either!
Hunter asks "Why"? Horatio doesn't understand what's happened to his
Horatio carries a starving Archie, who looks far from starving and as if he is about to give
Once in spiffier accommodations, Horatio pleadingly asks, "Archie, why did you do this?" I don't know, you knocked him out, which lead to his capture, torture and imprisonment. You neglected to tell him that the man who assaulted him for years is dead. You're stepping out with a woman instead of telling him you love him. Pick one!
The Duchess walks in and asks what happened? Horatio recaps that Archie has been starving himself to death and he didn't notice because he was too busy promenading on cliffs having conversations with her. Way to pass the blame. dude.
Near-death Archie summons the last bit of his strength to quote Shakespeare. The Bard would approve. The Duchess claims what he is saying is nothing, he's delirious, but Horatio thinks it's from something. Guards bring in firewood for a fire. In Spain. In what looks like summer.
Archie has a nightmare and sits bolt upright saying, "No! Simpson." Horatio shhh's him and tells him it's alright. Again, you know what now would be a great time for? TELLING ARCHIE SIMPSON IS DEAD. He tries to give Archie some water, but Archie struggles against it. Horatio doesn't take the rejection of his efforts well, but it leads to one hell of a squee-worthy scene.
Horatio: "You're going to drink. You're going to eat. And you're going to get better. And, then, we're going to get out of here."
Horatio continues by trying to reason with Archie with stories of how great it would be to get back to the Indy. Ya know, where Archie last saw Simpson. Head meet desk.
Archie: "And hea how Horatio Hornblower rescued his shipmate from prison."
Horatio: "It wouldn't be like that."
Archie: "It would be just like that."
Horatio: "You would do just the same for me if I were in your shoes."
Archie: "But your not. And you never would be."
Horatio: "Archie, I won't survive if you don't help me. None of us will."
Archie: (Sighs and rolls his eyes a bit.) "You don't need me." (YES! Yes he does!)
At this point, Horatio goes to the bed, sits at Archie's side, leans over him and begins tapping his finger to Archie's chest. Now, as I proceed, I shall share some of the thoughts I had the first time I watched the film as best as I can remember them.
Me: Do you really need to be that close to be making your point, Horatio?
Horatio: (As Archie turns away from him.) "You're one of us. We don't leave unless you do." (His voice softens as he plays with Archie's shirt.) "You can't let us down."
Me: INAPPROPRIATE TOUCHING!
Horatio: (Fists the fabric of Archie's shirt and, more desperate and a bit angry) "You must get strong."
Me: OMG, JUST KISS HIM ALREADY! KISS HIM!!! Ohhhh, now I get the slash.
Archie reaches for the cup and takes a drink. There's even the barest hint of a smile. Knowing the man he loves loves him and we all know what "must get strong" is code for.
While in the courtyard, Hunter, a couple of red shirts and Oldroyd plan to take out four guards and escape, the Duchess walks by on her way to see Horatio, who is asleep in a chair by Archie's bed. Sigh. Archie wakes up to see the Duchess smiling at him. He smiles back, but his expression quickly changes. So does hers. He seems to be having an epiphany.
Horatio ask Archie how he is doing. Archie says he's hungry. Horatio jokes about a big English breakfast. As Archie starts to says there is something he has to tell him, Horatio cuts him off with "Don't worry about a thing. Let's just get you back on your feet again." No, Horatio, he was not about to thank you. Archie shares that he Duchess is not a Duchess. She's an actress! And her name in Cathrine Cobham. Horatio thinks Archie must be mistaken because only Horatio can be right in these films. But Archie's sure because he knew Druery Lane like it was his home. (Which will be the launching point for Archie always wanted to be an actor fanon.)
Outside, alone with his thoughts, we see Horatio Hornblowers Stages of Acceptance.....
Horatio's fantasy is interrupted by the Don, who invites Horatio to a dinner with Colonel Etienne de Vergasse of the French army. Another dinner! At dinner, the Colonel makes some not-so-subtle remarks about the English theatre and a play about deceit which he directs toward the Duchess.
On a walk back to her room, Horatio reveals he knows who she really is. In front of two Spanish soldiers. Let's hope they don't know any English.
He enters her room and continues the discussion in private. The Colonel drops by for a 'visit' and to hurl some insults at the actress who pretends to be a duchess and the boy who pretends to be a captain. He also accuses them of being spies. The Duchess then goes into acting mode, lamenting about being stuck at a boring post with an aging aristocrat and callow youth and how she longs to go home. Catherine sends Horatio away, leaving her alone with the colonel.
There's a seemingly unnecessary scene in which Horatio is feeding Archie, Archie asks Horatio what's wrong and Horatio smiles and states he's just thinking about their escape. Unnecessary, sure, but, awww, more cuteness.
When next Horatio meets Catherine, he takes an attitude and talks of her being "more than friendly" with the colonel. She informs him she did what she had to to protect her secret and it was lucky for him she had another bargaining card to play, not the one he thinks she may have, as she shows him she still has the papers. Horatio in all his gloriously naivete asks how could she?! To which Catherine responds she only sacrificed some small things - her pride and self respect.
At night, Horatio shares with Hunter that Archie is getting stronger by the day and will soon be able to move. Horatio knows Hunter has been making plans and, again, tries to stall.
The next day, the Don reveals the Duchess has left on a sloop bound for Portugal. But she left him a parting gift. She felt Horatio should learn Spanish so the Don passes along a lexicon and a copy of Don Quixote to him.
Archie notices something is going on with the men and asks Horatio what he plans to do about it. Horatio asks him if he speaks Spanish. He does, a little. Hunter and Horatio have yet another confrontation with Horatio pointing out why they need more planning. Horatio's selling point for waiting and making sure they wait for
Growing impatient (aren't we all?), Hunter decides to put his ill conceived plan in action without group consensus. Styles asks Horatio what they should do? Horatio decides they can't leave their shipmates to suffer on their own and jumps in. They don't get past the courtyard. They end up surrounded and Horatio argues it's surrender or suicide. A desperate Hunter charges ahead and gets shot in the leg. In a final attempt at liberation, he....throws keys at the Don.
Horatio runs up to the Don and begs him to hold his fire, then waits to be shot. Hunter begs to be allowed to die, putting Archie's previous whimpering and crying to shame. Later. Hunter is in a lot of pain in their cell and I don't feel bad about it.
Horatio falls on his sword and takes the blame for the botched escape. The Don points out he gave him his parole and Horatio points out that was only for certain hours of the day. Loophole! The Don does not believe he would lead such a vicious and senseless assault doomed to fail. He wants the instigators and Mr. Kennedy will tell Horatio he's not afraid to be cruel. Archie tells Horatio to tell him, but Horatio refuses and the Don is disappointed. Yeah, having your enemy be disappointed in you really stings. Horatio is put in the hole in the ground. Yes, the one that nearly broke Archie! Full Circle!
As Archie tries to prevent Hunter from bleeding to death, Hunter inquires as to just how bad things will be for Horatio. Archie points out his time in the hole made him nearly mad and he could not walk for a month after. So, wait, Horatio discovered him a month after his last escape attempt? I need time stamps on this!
Horatio is freed. I'm guessing in under a month since he can walk. He's asked for his parole again and his privileges are returned. Once back in his cell, Archie runs to him. Of course he does. And I, again, scream, "KISS HIM! KISS HIM!", before remembering Hunter is right there. At least Horatio collapses into Archie's arms.
More time passes. Lots of walking about ensues and I really think he should have asked if Archie could keep him company. Then, one day, walking along the beach during a storm, Horatio sees a ship under fire. The Don rides out to get a better look. Horatio asks what ships they are. One is the Indy. Of course it is! On the Spanish ship, the crew doesn't appear to know what it's doing, of course they don't, and their mistakes send their ship into a reef.
Horatio states they need to launch boats to save them. The Don thinks it's a lost cause and none of the local fisherman will step up for a rescue attempt so, being the hero that he is, Horatio volunteers himself and his men in order to save those on the Spanish ship. The Don is understandably suspicious of the offer. He states that they are his enemies. Horatio counters the sea does not take sides. Um, OK.
Now, completely dark and the weather much worse, the Don informs Horatio he is crazy to be doing what he is doing. I must concur. Also crazy, Hunter, with a bum leg, begs to come along.
Horatio's brilliant plan involves those shipwrecked to jump into the frigid, raging water. Catherine, Surprise!, ison board. And Hunter, after rescuing the Spanish ship's captain, chooses to end his life by drowning instead of...heading back to prison? Out of guilt? Don't know, don't care really.
Everyone has to ride out the storm on the boat and Catherine, even after all that, still has the dispatches. At dawn's early light, Horatio spots the Indy. They row towards the ship. Bricegirdle is the first to spot the boat and begins shouting, "Hornblower has escaped! Screw the rest of them!" OK, I added that last bit.
Pellew is thrilled to see Horatio - screw the rest of them! Later, after drying off, Horatio informs Pellew they must go back at the first opportunity since he gave the Don his parole for himself and his men. Pellew says he must do what his honor dictates (or you could order him to stay, just sayin'), but Horatio cannot speak for his men. Meanwhile, 'The Duchess' enters, revealing she still has the bloody dispatches and defends Pellew's acting lieutenant. Pellew states Horatio no longer is his acting lieutenant. As the result of exemplary gallantry in the fire ship attack on Gibraltar, his promotion was confirmed to Commissioned Lieutenant Hornblower. Pellew sure likes to tease Horatio.
My Translation: "With Mr. Hunter dead, we'll now have the cell to ourselves to get better acquainted."
And the rest of the men go along with it all. Apparently, because Horatio is just that awesome.
Awww, look at the boys! So happy to be locked up together! And without Hunter to interrupt anything. :)
But some time later, the Don arrives informing Horatio that the first minister back in Madrid has sent word that for recognition in saving lives in peril of his own, he and the crew are to be set at liberty. The Don wonders if their excellencies realize they are setting free a man who will doubtless be a thorn in their side for years to come. Horatio says he will endeavor not to disappoint them.
Apologies for getting this in just under the wire for November. I'll try better in the future. New Year's resolution. ;)