Horatio Hornblower: The Examination for Lieutenant, a.k.a. The Fire Ships
directed by Andrew Grieve (A&E/ITV, 1998)

Young Horatio Hornblower has a bit of overzealous hero worship at play in The Examination for Lieutenant, the second film in this British made-for-TV series, when the dashing and lordly Capt. "Dreadnought" Foster comes aboard.

Of course, Foster (played with great ham by Denis "Wedge Antilles" Lawson) has feet of clay beneath those shiny black boats, and acting lieutenant Hornblower (Ioan Gruffudd) might not be so eager to see Foster sitting in judgment when it's time to be tested for promotion.

Promotion, however, may be the last thing on Hornblower's mind in this busy little movie, which includes a bookended pair of blazing fire ships, a starving fleet manning the French blockade, a rebellious seaman, an attempted desertion, a ship full of cattle and a dose of the Plague.

Even so, Horatio might have wanted to study a little harder before his big test.

review by
Tom Knapp

6 March 2010

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