Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 10th, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Spain, 1972
Director: Jesus Franco
Writers: José Antonio Arévalo, Gonzalo Cañas, Jesus Franco
Cast: José Manuel Marcos, Edmund Purdom, Marc Cassot, Doris Thomas, Howard Vernon, Armand Mestral, William Berger, Fernando Bilbao, Sergio Mendizábal, Luis Barboo, Alberto Dalbés, Marisol Delgado, Gonzalo Cañas
DVD released: 2007
Approximate running time: 88 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Letterboxed Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Castilian
DVD Release: Suevia Films
Region Coding: Region 2 NTSC (Spain)
Retail Price: 9,95 € (Euro)
Synopsis: A 15 year old boy out at sea for the first time is forced to take command of a ship when the Captian tragically dies.
Un Capitán de quince años is based on the Jules Verne novel “Dick Sand, A Captain at Fifteen”. This Spanish/French co-production was one of Jess Franco’s larger scale productions post working with producer Harry Alan Towers. Besides the film being a period drama. There would be many exotic locations and scenes aboard a ship. The locations are all used to their fullest and this production never looks cheap visually. The story follows pretty close the structure laid out in the original source novel.
The plots revolves around a 15 year old named Dick Sand whose relative is an admiral who helps him get a position of a whale hunting ship. When the Captain dies Dick Sand is thrust into the position of Captain. Somehow he manages to get the ship back to land. They were heading towards America and they end up in Africa were they are soon pursued by slave traders. The story has plenty of action and adventure with the last twenty minutes culminating in a gun battle and escape from the jungle while music Bruno Nicolai’s Marquis de Sade: Justine playing over the chaos. Visually Un Capitán de quince años is a pretty straight forward experience with very little of Jess Franco’s eccentric quirks coming through. Un Capitán de quince años is one of the rare occasions where there is absolutely no nudity or sexually related scenes.
Cast in the lead role of Dick Sand is an actor named José Manuel Marcos who appears to have no other acting credits besides this film. He perfectly captures the naivety of the Dick Sand character. Edmund Purdom was one of the higher billed performers in this production and yet his role is nothing more than a secondary character. In the main female role in the film is Doris Thomas who also worked with Jess Franco on numerous occasions including The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein, The Demons, Dolls for Sale, Diary of a Nymphomaniac and Faceless. Two Jess Franco regulars William Berger as Negoro a double crossing conman and Howard Vernon as a slave trader named Korda. Both are a joy to watch in their limited roles. Overall Un Capitán de quince años is an average Franco film that lacks his personal style which is evident it his best films.
Un Capitán de quince años is presented in a letterboxed widescreen that frames the image in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The framing of the image never looks tight and none of the credits get cropped because of the framing. The image looks clean, details look clear for the most part with some shots looking a tad to soft and colors lively throughout. One of the extras is an image comparison that shows that some re-master and fine tuning of the image has been done. There are a few minor instances were starches appear for a frame or two.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital stereo mix in Castilian. The audio has some minor instances of hiss and there are some instances where the audio sounds muffled. Overall despite these shortcomings the audio is more then adequate in getting the job done. Surprisingly Bruno Nicolai’s score sound’s robust and at times dynamic.
Extras for this release include filmographies for Jess Franco & Edmund Purdom, a crew listing, a cast listing including the names of the characters they play and a restoration demonstration. Suevia Films Un Capitán de quince años DVD release is not without its flaws and more then affordable price makes it an easier sell for Franco completists who need to see everyone one of his films. For those who are on the fence or only have a passing interest in the films’ of Jess Franco you may want to wait until an English friendly DVD release comes along.