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Sinful Davey
Sinful Davey poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byJohn Huston
Written byJames R. Webb (screenplay)
David Haggart (book)
Produced byWilliam N. Graf
StarringJohn Hurt
Pamela Franklin
Nigel Davenport
Fionnula Flanagan
Anjelica Huston
CinematographyEdward Scaife
Freddie Young
Edited byRussell Lloyd
Music byKen Thorne
The Mirisch Corporation
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • 7 May 1969 (1969-05-07)
Running time
95 min.
CountriesUnited Kingdom
United States
Budget$3 million[1]
Box office$550,000[1]

Sinful Davey is a 1969 picaresque adventure/ crime/ comedy film directed by John Huston and starring John Hurt, Pamela Franklin, and in early appearances Fionnula Flanagan and Anjelica Huston.

John Huston later said the film was "very good" but "spoiled beyond recognition" by the producers.[2]


In a British prison in the early 1800s, Scottish rogue Davey Haggart (John Hurt) is seen writing his memoirs while waiting to be hanged. Most of his story is told in flashback with voice-over narration by Davey. His story begins as he is seen marching and beating a drum for the British Army, but he quickly deserts by jumping off a bridge with his drum and floating away. We learn that his father had been a highwayman who was hanged at the age of 21 for attempting to rob the Duke of Argyll (Robert Morley) and that Davey is determined to exceed the number of his father's crimes. Annie (Pamela Franklin), a childhood friend who is in love with him, follows him at different times, sometimes getting him out of trouble but hoping that he will reform.

Davey winds up becoming a partner with McNab (Ronald Fraser), a pickpocket and thief, sometimes teaming up with other criminals. Eventually, the two land in prison, where Davey is able to break into the women's quarters and start a raucous party with the female prisoners, led by Jean Carlisle (Fidelma Murphy). Davey is bailed out by Annie, but he then enables McNab's escape and turns to highway robbery, following in his father's footsteps. Constable Richardson (Nigel Davenport), the local officer, tries to recruit Annie to help capture Davey, but she refuses.

Davey goes into hiding in the Scottish highlands, but still gets into trouble. Almost by accident, Davey foils an attempted assault and robbery of Sir James Graham (Donal McCann), a nephew of the Duke of Argyll, who invites Davey to his uncle's manor. While Davey wins the favor of the Duke and his family, McNab, Jean Carlisle, Annie, and Constable Richardson also converge on the estate at different times. Davey sets up an elaborate robbery of guests at a grand ball hosted by the Duchess (Maxine Audley), but Annie then returns the stolen jewels. When Richardson recognizes Davey as the thief he has been seeking, a lengthy chase ensues, with Davey stealing a horse and riding away until he is knocked off by a low-hanging tree branch.

The story returns to Davey's prison cell, as he finishes writing his memoirs, expecting his execution to take place soon. Annie and McNab, however, are able to sabotage the gallows so that Davey escapes once again, riding away with Annie.


Director John Huston and producer Walter Mirisch clashed several times during and after the film's production, especially in regard to a musical score originally composed by John Barry, the casting of Huston's daughter Anjelica, and the final editing of the film.[3] Critic David Sterrit describes the final product as "a box-office fiasco that nobody has particularly wanted to own. But it's also an interesting document from Huston's tired period, showing what can happen when a great director and a major studio clash over a project that was probably fated from the beginning not to click."[4]

The film is based on the autobiography of David Haggart titled The Life of David Haggart. The film, about a Scottish rogue, was filmed in Ireland, and much of the cast have Irish accents instead of the more accurate Scottish accent.[5]

Four members of the film unit making the picture in Co. Wicklow crashed in their Cessna plane at Glenmalure in 1967. All the occupants of the plane were injured to some extent, but John O’Connor, the location manager, was the most seriously injured. Huston left the film location to visit the hospital and stopped the filming.



  1. ^ a b Tino Balio, United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry, University of Wisconsin Press, 1987 p. 192
  2. ^ The Innocent Bystander Robinson, David. Sight and Sound; London Vol. 42, Iss. 1,
  3. ^ "Sinful Davey: Trivia". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  4. ^ Sterritt, David (8 April 2010). "Sinful Davey". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  5. ^ Sinful Davey review at Time Out
  6. ^ "Fidelma Murphy". IMDB. Retrieved 14 July 2021.

External links

This page was last edited on 14 July 2021, at 10:54
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