What is the mysterious and undoubtedly quite shocking secret of Boyne Castle? Is it that its dark and creepy parapets are haunted by a vindictive banshee intent on screeching at visitors so they can’t get a good night’s sleep?
Is it that Lord Boyne has his hideously disfigured inbred daughter imprisoned in the far tower because she tried to light her brother on fire after he refused her advances?
Could it be that hidden deep somewhere inside a secret passageway is the fabled pot of gold the King of the Leprechauns stashed there in between bouts of harassing Darby O’Gill?
No, the secret of Boyne Castle is far more stunning than all of those put together! Its terrible secret turns out be that Boyne Castle is excruciatingly padded!
This three part Disneyland movie from 1969 runs somewhere in the neighborhood of 140 minutes! That’s something like 20 minutes longer than Citizen Kane! For a movie starring Kurt Russell as an American exchange student running around Ireland trying to avoid getting caught by Commie secret agents!
The 140 minutes includes the opening and ending credits for each individual episode as well as a “last week on Secret of Boyne Castle” recap that played before parts 2 and 3, but even if you cut out those 15 minutes or so, you’re still left with a movie that’s easily a half hour too long.
After watching Kurt escape the bad guys for about eighteenth time, I realized that the last time I encountered such a sizable amount of padding was when I felt up my date to the junior high Sadie Hawkins Day dance!
Likewise, the training bra-sized story that Kurt hustled himself gamely through promised quite a bit, but only delivered a dull travelogue of the Irish countryside.
When you have a castle, a secret, an American in a foreign land and three episodes at your disposal, I was frankly worried that director Robert Butler (The Barefoot Executive) wasn’t going to have nearly enough time to work everything in.
Surely, Kurt would find himself a red-haired lass to share his adventures with. And wouldn’t he have to best the local bully at one of those weird local sports like cricket or soccer?
But all that would have to happen when he wasn’t taking on haunted castles, stealing blarney stones, battling ghost pirates, and playing drinking games at the pub owned by the gruff, but lovable father of the red-haired lass he was smitten with.
I needn’t have worried though since Kurt was saddled with a homely school chum named Sean and the only thing that happened other than getting chased all over Ireland was that they stole a kidney pie. And it didn’t even get shoved in anybody’s face!
Kurt gets himself mixed up in all this when a dying man seeks him out at his school. Just before he croaks he gives him some information about something in Boyne Castle that Kurt needs to relay to his brother.
Almost before this guy is done blowing his death germs all over poor Kurt, Kurt and his pal get kidnapped by the bad guys. Their leader is Kirshner and he’s described as the “head of the secret police behind the Iron Curtain.” He’s also a master of disguise which means he glues on fake beards and sometimes uses a cane.
Kurt though demonstrates that good old fashioned American know how as he is able to constantly spot the bad guys with such tip offs as a guy not ever turning the page of the newspaper he was supposedly reading or the fact that Kirshner routinely wears the same ugly ring regardless of the disguise he has on. Kirshner eventually wises up and ditches the ring, but Kurt just goes up in a glider and drops cannon balls on the poor bastard’s boat!
The Secret of Boyne Castle has as much trouble filling its three episode commitment as Kurt’s professional secret agent brother does in not being continuously outshined by his high school brother’s superior spy-jinks.
The movie follows a tedious pattern of Kurt running from the bad guys, the bad guys catching up to him, and Kurt escaping and running away again. The only variance to this is the mode of transportation Kurt uses. Sometimes it’s a scooter, sometimes a train, and sometimes a car. He also runs away a lot on foot. They don’t even actually get to Boyne Castle until the third part!
It was so bad that I was reassured in a sick way when Kurt’s friend sees a glider flying around and announces that he knows how to fly, too! I had been thinking that the only thing missing from the movie was Kurt hijacking an airplane to fly to safety.
Even the reason Kurt is going through all of this is dull. There’s a defector coming to Ireland who Kurt’s brother is going to escort back to the United States and Boyne Castle is where the information is that tells where and when the defector will arrive by boat.
Maybe this had some currency back in the late 1960s with the Cold War going strong, but things were presented in such a rudimentary fashion (No double crosses? Nothing much specific about the defector’s importance? No freaking gadgets?), it’s difficult to believe that even audiences back then would be inclined to eagerly tune into the second and third episodes after surviving the first one.
It was released as Guns of the Heather in Europe as a movie and apparently shorn of about 30 minutes, but that still left a couple of hours of scenes of Kurt hiding in a pond trying to evade bloodhounds and Kurt hiding in a hay cart trying to evade ugly KGB guys.
And did all of this really turn on Kurt’s prowess with a javelin? Yes, and just to drive home how much this movie failed, Kurt didn’t even impale anyone with it!
© 2015 MonsterHunter