It’s time for our Disney film!
My mom has always been a huge Hayley Mills fan and I grew up watching all her films. I love all of them, but my second favorite has always been The Moon-Spinners (That Darn Cat is first).
So my mother recorded it off TV years ago and I watched the film with her. Years passed and I wanted to watch it again but our tape had worn out and the end was missing. I tried hunting for it as I just had to know, what happened in the end.
The copy I borrowed from the library was also no good as right when it came to the part I wanted to see, the white lines of boredom.
Eventually I decided that I needed to just buy a copy, but had real trouble finding one-this was back when ebay was entering the everyday vernacular and amazon was just barely making name for itself). Then we also had Disney putting things in “the vault” so super hard to get the older movies. Years passed but whenever I would look for the film it was either sold out, “soon to be added”, too expensive, VHS, or USED. I finally found a copy this year and bought it for my mom for Mother’s Day this year.
Looking at this film now as an adult, I can clearly see why I was into it. This film is very similar to the style of Alfred Hitchcock. The thriller starts with an average ordinary person who gets caught up in this web of intrigue accidentally.
There are quite a few scenes and story points that are also reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock, all being things I love. I later looked up some trivia and read that that Walt Disney purposely wanted this to be like a Hitchcock movie and had the writers borrow some motifs, but still give it a Disney ending.
So without further ado…
Nikky Ferris (Hayley Mills) and her Aunt Frances are traveling through Greece collecting folk songs as she is a musicologist for the BBC. They rented a room at The Moon-Spinners Inn, but unfortunately for them the owner, Sophia’s (Irene Papas) brother is causing some issues. Stratos (Eli Wallach) has returned after 15 years living in England and has been in such a bad mood since his return. He doesn’t want anyone in the hotel (and unknown to his sister has been throwing away reservations). He causes a scene with her, but Sophia ends up renting the rooms to the two ladies after they arrive hot, bedraggled, and tired from their trip on the bus.
There is only one other guest at the hotel, Mark Camford (Peter McEnery). When Nikky and Frances arrive, Nikky has not been having the best holiday. But as soon as she sees dashing Mark, she perks up.
The three eat together that night and enjoy Mark’s company, but while he is charming and cheerful, something seems off. He keeps looking and watching-something is between him and Stratos.
So Nikki is really into Mark and tries to flirt with him and he is nice, but he’s totally drunk and kind of all over the place. I never noticed that as a kid, I always thought he was just having fun.
Nikky had spoken to Sophia’s son Alexis (Michael Davis) and heard about different beautiful places to swim. She talks about it and she and Mark make plans to go out in the morning together to swim and have a picnic. Nikky is excited.
After the ladies go to bed, Stratos goes out to the Bay of Dolphins with Mark following him. Ah ha! He either got sober real quick or he was just pretending to be-trying to throw Stravos off the scent. Mark is seen and a fight ensues with Mark being shot. He falls in the water.
Stratos returns the hotel and cleans out Mark’s room, him having “checked out”.
The next day Nikki is happy and excited for her date and when she gets to the Bay, there is no Mark.
She waits around for a bit and checks back at the hotel with Stratos telling her that Mark checked out. Nikki doesn’t feel like that’s right, I mean she only met and spoke to him last night but they seemed to have a connection. Or at least he seemed nice enough to tell her instead of standing her up. She starts looking/wandering and finds what looks like his shoe, but just one.
She goes to an old historic church and notices some blood and finds Mark wounded in the church. Wanting to help him, she leaves her sweater over him and takes off back to the hotel. She searches Mark’s room, but can’t find a single thing that belongs to him. Instead she steals her Aunt’s first aid kit and blanket, smuggling some brandy out of the hotel-just barely avoiding being spotted by her Aunt.
That scene is stressful as you know Mark is heavily in need of assistance and if he doesn’t get it he’ll die!
She manages to make it and goes to Mark giving him all the supplies. Mark won’t tell her why he was shot, who shot him, what this is all about etc. Instead he sends her home, trying as hard as he can to not involve her .
She leaves after much protest and returns to the Inn. There Frances complains about her missing items, Stratos hears them and immediately knows that his problem hasn’t been destroyed.
Nicky tries to get sway as soon as she can so as to warn him, but ends up being captured by Stratos. Startoes sees the blood trail and follows it but doesn’t find mark. He takes Nikky with him.
Aunt Frances begins to grow worried when Nikky doesn’t return. Stratos leaves and goes “looking” for her. The next day Frances leaves for the police, located in the next village. Sophia begins to think that her brother did something, but when she questions her brother he threatens her son, Alexis. After that, Sophia stays quiet.
What a horrible man, I do like that we don’t see anything horrible happen (it is still a Disney film). But what is inferred is truly, truly horrible. I mean this is his nephew! And he is threatening to kill, maim, hurt, destroy his own nephew!
Alexis is out with his donkeys and finds Nikky in the windmill trapped.
He goes for help and finds Mark who tries his best to help with a wounded arm. This is like the best scene in the whole movie. I tried to find a clip, but unfortunately I couldn’t. So they climb on the windmill and use the sails to get in to help Nikky, and then to get out. This scene was so scary as if you fell when the sail was at the very top, ouch dead or injured.
This is always where my copy ended, after the windmill scene. I have to say this really is the most thrilling part of the film, so no wonder it hooked me good.
After that they try to go to the next town to reach the police, but Stratos friend comes after them. They have to stop as Mark needs rest, his injury is really giving him trouble. They wait in some temple ruins filled with cats, that’s how you know it is safe
And Mark finally tells her his story. So Mark was a London bank messenger and supposed to be taking these famous jewels to the Countess Fleet. He was distracted, as there was a girl involved, and after the robbery he wasn’t prosecuted as there wasn’t enough proof, but he did lose his job and has a dark cloud over him. He remembers Stratos and followed him Greece to try and get proof of his innocence. I love how when he tells the story Nikky clicks on to one thing.
Mark Camford: You believe me don’t you?
Nikky Ferris: About the girl?
Mark Camford: No, about ME.
The next day they are awaken by John Gamble, of the British counsel. He offers them to come to his place for food, baths, medical attention. As Mark is in serious need and he’s from their country-Nikky convinces Mark to go with him, and they leave the shot gun behind. They go to his extremely nice house and get all they were promised. The weird thing is that his wife Cynthia really likes Nikky and finds her a sweet girl but always is sad around her. Nikky wanders about the house and uses a telescope on the balcony to look at a yacht in the water, it is a famous one owned by the infamous Madame Habib and her world famous jewel collection.
Now I have seen almost every Alfred Hitchcock movie and episode of his TV show-so I know this man is evil. This is just like in The 39 Steps or Saboteur when they go to the rich influential man in power, only to see that he is in fact working for the other side and going to betray them.
Nikky goes to see Mark and he shares that the jewels are too famous to be sold on the open market so Stratos must have a certain buyer in mind. Nikky mentions Madam Habib and Mark is convinced it must be her, wanting to add another famed piece. Nikky thinks they should get help from the Gambles, but Mark doesn’t trust the Gambles. He They are…something is very, very off about them. Later Mark tries to leave and can’t even stand-drugged. Aunt Frances comes and Gamble arranged for them to go to the airport while Mark will be dropped off at the hospital, yeah right they are probably going to kill him.
Mark ends up escaping, as he needs to get those jewels and the proof, and it turns out Gramble and Stratos are working together.
There is a giant Carnival/festival happening, making stop and go traffic as they have to wait for people and such to past. After Mark takes off, Nikky follows but loses him. She instead steals a boat and heads out to the yacht. Jeez, this boy has really been a bad influence on her.
All comes to a head on Madame Habib’s yacht as Nikky tells her the story, Stratos arrives to sell the jewels and fights with Nikky, Mark arrives to get his proof, Aunt Frances comes with the police, etc. Mark is cleared, Frances told the story, Stratos jailed, Nikky and Frances can enjoy the rest of their holiday and poor Madam Habib gets nothing.
Madame Habib: Well, since this seems to have turned into a family reunion, we might as well make the best of it. I will have dinner served on the rear deck. I’m so upset… I shall have mine in bed.
So this was a cute but thrilling movie and a lot of fun to watch. It also will be enjoyable for any Alfred Hitchcock fan out there.
For more Disney films, go to Basil of Baker Street: The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
For more Hayley Mills, go to That Darn Cat