Hornblower: The Frogs and the Lobsters (1999)


The Frogs and Lobsters is the fourth of eight Hornblower television adaptations relating the exploits of Horatio Hornblower, the protagonist in a series of novels and short stories by C.S. Forester.

The Frogs and the Lobsters is the name given to this second film in the United Kingdom, while in the United States it is known as The Wrong War.

Very loosely based on the chapter of the same name in C.S. Forester’s novel Mr. Midshipman Hornblower and on the actual ill-fated Quiberon expedition of 1795. The main title is based on the often derogatory term for the French used by the British (as well as other English speakers) and on the red coats of the British soldiers. The secondary title deals with Horatio’s own duty to the Crown and the alliance with the French and his struggle with his own sympathy towards the French revolutionaries.


François de Charette is a royalist general who raises a force of French exiles to restore the French king to power. He is supported by the British government, who provide Royal Navy vessels to ferry a combined expeditionary force of French royalist troops (the “frogs”) and a half-battalion of British redcoats (the “lobsters”) across the English Channel to Quiberon, but one important thing has gone wrong. A lieutenant carrying a copy of the orders has been murdered and the orders stolen. Captain Pellew, who is in charge of the transports, believes this to be the work of French spies and begs his superiors to call off the invasion, but they ignore him and the army sets off for disaster. Horatio Hornblower is assigned to hold and, if necessary, blow up the bridge at Muzillac. The French officer in charge of the royalist forces, Colonel Marquis de Moncoutant, is a nobleman who held feudal authority over the region prior to the revolution. He is obsessed with revenge, to the extent of guillotining all the republican officials and supporters who are taken prisoner. The French revolutionary forces counterattack, rout the royalists and execute de Moncoutant, using the same guillotine. Hornblower and his small naval detachment manage to reach the British troops, who conduct a disciplined retreat and reach their ships.

The main departure from the original story is the introduction of French peasant girl Mariette, a schoolteacher who is fluent in English. She and Hornblower fall in love, but she is killed by French revolutionary troops en route back to his ship, as she tries to escape with him.


  • Ioan Gruffudd as Lieutenant Horatio Hornblower.
  • Robert Lindsay as Captain Sir Edward Pellew.
  • Jamie Bamber as Acting Lieutenant Archie Kennedy.
  • Jonathan Coy as Lieutenant Bracegirdle.
  • Paul Copley as Matthews.
  • Sean Gilder as Styles.
  • Peter Vaughan as Admiral Lord Hood.
  • Samuel West as Major Lord Edrington.
  • John Shrapnel as François de Charette.
  • Antony Sher as Marquis de Moncoutant.
  • Estelle Skornik as Mariette.

Hornblower Series

You can find a full index and overview of Hornblower here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Andrew Grieve.
  • Producer(s):
    • Andrew Benson … producer.
    • Delia Fine … executive producer.
    • Vernon Lawrence … executive producer.
    • Peter Richardson … line producer.
  • Writer(s): Chris Ould.
  • Music:
  • Cinematography: Alec Curtis.
  • Editor(s):
  • Production:
    • A+E Networks (in association with).
    • Meridian Broadcasting.
    • United Film and Television Productions.
  • Distributor(s):
    • A&E Home Video (2000) (USA) (DVD).
    • A&E Home Video (2002) (USA) (VHS).
    • A+E Networks (1999) (USA) (TV).
    • Cinema Club (2002) (UK) (VHS).
    • Cinema Club (2003) (UK) (DVD).
    • ITV – Independent Television (1999) (UK) (TV).
    • ITV DVD (2006) (UK) (DVD).
    • NHK-BS2 (2002) (Japan) (TV).
    • Reel Corporation (2002) (Australia) (DVD).
    • Reel DVD (2002) (Australia) (DVD).
  • Original Network: ITV1.
  • Release Date: 02 April 1999.
  • Running Time: 120 minutes (with adverts).
  • Rating: PG.
  • Country: UK.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

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