Thursday, 28 May 2020

Movie Review: Tucker: The Man And His Dream (1988)

A heartfelt biography, Tucker is the remarkable story of a visionary automobile designer fearlessly challenging the system.

Shortly after the end of World War Two, vivacious Michigan-based innovator Preston Tucker (Jeff Bridges) correctly predicts that owning a car will be a big part of the new post-war American dream. Supported by wife Vera (Joan Allen) and a large brood of children including eldest son Preston Jr. (Christian Slater), he imagines a concept car with innovative safety and aerodynamic features: seat-belts, disc brakes, a rear-mounted engine, a front windshield that pops out in the event of a crash, and steering-responsive headlights.

Tucker: I grew up a generation too late, I guess, because now the way the system works, the loner, the dreamer, the crackpot who comes up with some crazy idea that everybody laughs at, that later turns out to revolutionize the world - he's squashed from above before he even gets his head out of the water because the bureaucrats, they'd rather kill a new idea than let it rock the boat!

Preston turns to New York financier Abe Karatz (Martin Landau) to find investors, and creates a publicity splash by advertising a car that does not yet exist. He hires designer Alex Tremulis (Elias Koteas) and they cobble together a barely functional prototype for a grand unveiling. Tucker secures a large warehouse in Chicago and gets to work manufacturing the car, but the traditional big three automakers sense a threat. Soon Tucker is facing a variety of financial and legal challenges, including from his own board of directors.

Tucker: Isn't that the idea? To build a better mouse trap?
Abe Karatz: Not if you're a mouse!

A long-term passion project for director Francis Ford Coppola, Tucker is a glitzy and spirited slice of the American dream with all the promises and disappointments inherent in audaciously aiming to disrupt the status quo. Sometimes bordering on a puff piece but also carrying hints of Coppola's own career legacy as an outside-the-system idealist, the film is powered by Tucker's driven yet exceptionally amiable personality, eternally optimistic and capable of navigating around any obstacle - or speeding past it.

And Tucker's real-life achievements testify to his vision and relentless pursuit of excellence. Prized for their craftsmanship and exceptional durability, Tucker sedans remained on the roads for decades, and many of their groundbreaking safety features were eventually adopted into mainstream auto manufacturing.

The film rides the post-war nation building wave of optimism and energy to a glitzy showroom shine. With extravagant set designs Coppola brings to life the late 1940s with a flourish, and infuses Tucker with a jaunty style and brisk pacing, wrapping up the story in 110 minutes. 

Tucker: But if big business closes the door on the little guy with a new idea, we're not only closing the door on progress, but we're sabotaging everything that we fought for! Everything that the country stands for!! And one day we're gonna find ourselves at the bottom of the heap instead of king of the hill, having no idea how we got there, buying our radios and our cars from our former enemies. 

But a few areas do fall short. Preston Tucker is presented as almost faultless, and despite the singular focus his principles and philosophies are only articulated at the end of the climactic mini courtroom drama. For most of the film Jeff Bridges is reduced to flashing a goofy smile with an occasional exhibition of temper. And other than Martin Landau's evocative turn as friend and financier Abe Karatz, all the other secondary characters, including wife Vera and eldest son Preston Jr., are shortchanged or reduced to stock representations.

Abe, to Tucker: I want you to know something, Tucker. I went into business with you for one reason - to make money. That's all. How was I to know, if I got too close, I'd catch your dreams.

But the sharp script by Arnold Schulman and David Seidler rides out the rough patches with aplomb. Tucker may have been a better salesman than businessman, but nothing was going to stop him racing around the next corner for the sheer joy of it.

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Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Movie Review: Crocodile Dundee (1986)

A comedy and romance, Crocodile Dundee celebrates Australian outback culture through the affable personality of star Paul Hogan.

New York-based reporter Sue Charlton (Linda Kozlowski) is on assignment in Australia, and convinces her boss and lover Richard (Mark Blum) that she should pursue the story of Mike "Crocodile" Dundee (Hogan). Legend has it that Dundee was alone in the outback and survived a vicious crocodile attack, crawling for days and miles to return to civilization.

Sue travels to the remote community of Walkabout Creek and meets Dundee's friend and tour business partner Walt (John Meillon), then Dundee himself. He takes her to the outback to revisit the scene of the famous crocodile attack, and on their multi-day journey they start to fall in love. Sue invites Dundee to accompany her back to New York, where he now has to navigate the urban jungle.

Australian comedian, television personality and beer spokesperson Paul Hogan conceived the Crocodile Dundee story and co-wrote the screenplay. Directed by Peter Faiman, the film is a perfect match for his easy-going simple-but-clever persona, and catapulted Hogan onto the international stage as Australia's most famous ambassador.

Certainly episodic and not even trying to conjure a plot beyond commemorating the Australian spirit, Crocodile Dundee nevertheless delivers pure fun.

Using a simple two-part structure, the film finds laughs through the reliable fish-out-of-water premise. In the first half Sue is the outsider in Dundee's natural habitat, and his resourcefulness and effortless ability to navigate all the hazards of the Australian wilderness are presented with comedic charm. Snakes, water buffalo, kangaroo hunters and of course a crocodile are no match for Dundee's unique brand of equalization.

The second half switches to Manhattan and now Dundee is far outside his comfort zone and occasionally bewildered. But the laughs come from applying rugged solutions to urban problems, including crowded sidewalks, prostitutes, pimps, muggers, bars, galas, and the insufferable Richard.

The chemistry between Sue and Dundee starts strong and builds quickly, but Faiman holds the couplehood at bay and keeps the focus on the man until a classic and rightfully celebrated final scene on a packed subway platform.

Amiable and easy to enjoy, Crocodile Dundee carries potent teeth on his hat.

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Monday, 25 May 2020

Movie Review: On Golden Pond (1981)

A family drama about aging, On Golden Pond examines the twilight of life through the twin lenses of enduring love and difficult forgiveness.

In New England, elderly couple Norman and Ethel Thayer (Henry Fonda and Katharine Hepburn) reopen their summer cottage on the shores of an idyllic lake known as Golden Pond. A retired professor approaching 80 years old, Norman suffers from heart palpitations and declining mental sharpness. He maintains an abrasive personality compounded by an obsession with death. Ethel is 10 years younger and in better health. They remain deeply in love and she helps smooth over his sharp edges.

Their daughter Chelsea (Jane Fonda) arrives for Norman's birthday along with her new boyfriend Bill Ray (Dabney Coleman) and his 13 year old son Billy (Doug McKeon). Chelsea and Norman have a strained relationship and cannot mend it before she leaves for Europe with Bill, leaving Billy in the care of Norman and Ethel for a month. The young teenager and old man bond over fishing, but dangers lurk in the lake and Chelsea's return will prompt more difficult conversations.

Remarkably, On Golden Pond was the first on-screen collaboration between legends Henry Fonda and Katherine Hepburn. And with Jane Fonda adding a layer of realism to the strained dynamic between father and daughter, the film's casting is near-mythical. And the stars do not disappoint. An otherwise simple story is elevated by Hepburn and Henry Fonda (in his final appearance) defining the dusk of life as a time of uncertainty, reflection, pride, impatience and plenty of love. Both deservedly won Academy Awards for their performances.

Ernest Thompson adapted his own play into a witty script and director Mark Rydell respects the theatrical origins but also displays nimbleness to keep the cameras moving. Cinematographer Billy Williams makes the most of the serene filming location at Squam Lake, New Hampshire.

Thompson invests in the aching emotional dependencies between long-term partners, and the bond of marriage between Norman and Ethel resides at the core of the story. Both know he is in declining health but he remains her lifelong rock and she refuses to partake in his incessant death talk, coaxing him to engage and at least minimize the antagonizing behaviour. 

The second key relationship develops between Norman and young Billy, and indeed they take centre stage for the entire middle act. Norman finds a fishing companion and willing learner; Billy discovers adventure on the lake, including the thrills of operating a speed boat and catching elusive trout. They make an unlikely partnership and uncover the reciprocal joys of mentorship.

Ironically the weakest subplot is between Chelsea and her father. Their dysfunctionality is superficially introduced and summarily resolved, Jane Fonda overacting and unconvincing at both ends of Chelsea's arc.

But whenever the humans stumble On Golden Pond can turn to the graceful loons, majestically swimming as couples across the lake, all the hard work of togetherness hidden below the surface.


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Movie Review: The Naked Jungle (1954)

A romantic drama and disaster thriller, The Naked Jungle juxtaposes a unique marital conflict with an impressive nature-induced catastrophe.

It's the early 1900s and mail-order bride Joanna (Eleanor Parker) completes a long journey from New Orleans to the South American jungle to meet her new husband Christopher Leiningen (Charlton Heston). He is a proud self-made man who left home 15 years prior at age 19 and carved a vast cacao plantation out of previously flooded land with the help of local tribe members.

Christopher has no experience with women and is shocked to find Joanna not only stunningly beautiful but confidently standing up to him and speaking her mind. They clash repeatedly, and once he learns she is a widow he rejects her, unable to deal with his wife not being a virgin.

But after he makes plans for her to return to New Orleans the plantation comes under an existential threat from the all-consuming ant army known as the marabunta. Joanna will have to decide if her relationship with Christopher is worth fighting for as he stands to lose everything.

An innovative hybrid unafraid to chart new territory, The Naked Jungle effectively merges two disparate themes into one drama. Based on a 1937 short story by Carl Stephenson, the film is a remarkably efficient 95 minutes with director Byron Haskin wasting no time in setting the jungle context and introducing Joanna and Christopher as two compelling characters. They meet for the first time but are already husband-and-wife, and in a case of two similar personalities clashing, the tension of incompatibility jumps off the screen. Both are smart, proud, stubborn, sensual and outspoken, but he is too caught up in his own legend to accept an equal counterpart.

The first hour traces their relationship with no shortcuts and no easy resolutions. Some of the emotional notes suffer from clunky repetition as Christopher refines his (mostly) passive aggressive mistreatment. Gradually the couple at least grow more civil towards each other as he concludes that the marriage experiment was a bad idea and she has to return from whence she came. 

Then the local whispers of something strange deep in the jungle grow into more urgent drum beats about an approaching army of ants two miles wide and twenty miles deep, devouring everything in its path. True to form Christopher decides he will make a stand to try and save his life's work. He accelerates Joanna's planned departure, now more out of care than dismissiveness. 

But she has other ideas and the final 25 minutes are a breathless and genuinely exciting battle against a billion-ant beast. The special effects conceived by George Pal are stellar for the era, and Haskin is successful at finding an eloquent resolution to serve both narrative streams.  

Charlton Heston and Eleanor Parker make for an appealing forced couple. Parker in particular finds joy in an early feminist role, uncomplaining but never silenced and always adhering to her principles and essence. The rather sparse supporting cast includes Abraham Sofaer as Christopher's chief aid, William Conrad as the judicious local commissioner and John Dierkes as a competing plantation owner. But with two powerful central characters and a billion ants on the march, The Naked Jungle has understandably little room or need for anyone else.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Movie Review: The Quiller Memorandum (1966)

A spy thriller, The Quiller Memorandum investigates a group of ultra nationalists in Germany. Compact and often intense, the film targets disposition and tension more than outright action.

After two British agents are killed, Agent Quiller (George Segal) is dispatched to Berlin to continue an investigation into a shadowy neo-Nazi group. He connects with his controller Pol (Alec Guinness) and shakes off his guard Hengel (Peter Carsten). Investigating reports that one of the neo-Nazis worked at a school Quiller meets teacher Inge Lindt (Senta Berger) and romances her to try and extract additional information.

Quiller antagonizes enough people to prompt the extremists into action: he is drugged, kidnapped and comes face to face with Oktober (Max von Sydow), the leader of a far-right group. At a secret location Oktober tries to extract from Quiller information about counterintelligence operations in Berlin, and a dangerous battle of wits and wills erupts between the two sides.

A Harold Pinter adaptation of the Elleston Trevor book directed by Michael Anderson, The Quiller Memorandum dives into the world of undercover spies poking around dangerous corners to uncover existential threats. Partially shot on location in Berlin, the film carries a British sensibility. The action is measured, talk is important, mindgames matter, and mood predominates.

But the film also skips past several gaps in logic. Quiller is an American seemingly working for the British, German authorities are nowhere to be found, and on more than one occasion Oktober and his men leave loose ends to better serve the script than their cause. Anderson allows some scenes to run too long, and most of the secondary characters, particularly Oktober's many henchmen, are statuesque in presence and stiff in character.

Max von Sydow and Alec Guinness add welcome gravitas, but both are marginally over the top and edge towards caricaturish representations of master villain and master spy respectively.

The central passionate relationship is handled better. Notwithstanding the speed with which Quiller connects with Inge, Anderson delicately weaves in the complex romance, with Senta Berger enigmatic in the pivotal role. When Oktober injects the spy with a truth serum Inge as a notional lover suddenly becomes vital for his survival; later her role seeps into the investigation, lapping on multiple shores of subtle danger.

More famous for comedic roles, George Segal is a revelation. He adds oodles of character, staying on the appropriate side of determined but pushing all the boundaries in an unconventional and acid-tongued pursuit of proven killers. Countering extreme nationalism is a dour mission, but Quiller brings individual swagger to the game of shadows.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Movie Review: Cuba (1979)

A drama and romance with some revolutionary action, Cuba is overstuffed with mostly unfulfilled potential but boasts exotic settings and quality production values.

It's the late 1950s, and Cuba's leftist revolution is close to achieving victory. Retired British Major Robert Dapes (Sean Connery) arrives to help prop-up the right-wing Batista military dictatorship. Hired by General Bello (Martin Balsam), Dapes quickly realizes the corrupt regime is on its last legs.

Also in Havana is a collection of foreigners hustling for a living in the shadow of revolution. American businessman Gutman (Jack Weston) is looking to invest in local industry, and shady entrepreneur Skinner (Denholm Elliott) runs a private airline supplying weapons to the rebels. Exotic stripper Miss Wonderly (Louisa Moritz) is trying to attract crowds to her tacky show, helped by her hustling agent (Dave King).

Meanwhile Alexandra (Alex) Pulido (Brooke Adams) is running the business empire of her father-in-law Don Jose (Walter Gotell). Her husband Juan (Chris Sarandon) is a useless womanizer carrying on an affair with sultry factory worker Therese (Lonette McKee). Alex and Dapes were lovers at the end of World War Two. Now they reconnect and he romantically pursues her, but a lot has changed over 15 years.

Intended as a simmering multi-character sweaty drama set against a tumultuous backdrop, Cuba carries clear wannabe echoes of Casablanca. Director Richard Lester and writer Charles Wood conjure up all the raw material, with on-location filming in Spain creating an appealing, colourful and earthy aesthetic. Lester is thoughtful about his shot selection, and Cuba is a stylish exercise in capturing the dying days of a decaying regime.

The first freewheeling hour introduces the myriad characters and adds tangy local spice in the form of class, wealth, and urban-rural divides, but the film then stumbles. The direction is set but the specific destination goes missing and momentum is squandered. The attempted romance between Dapes and Alex, rendered clunky thanks to the prominently visible 18 year age difference between Connery and Adams, never ignites but is awkwardly allowed to dominate. Some truly awful and emotionally dissonant dialogue exchanges appear conceived on the spot and the second half sags into an underwritten slog.

Some short and sharp action scenes inject jolts of energy. Dapes and a group of incompetent regime soldiers encounter a revolutionary scouting squad; an attack on a swanky dinner party leaves multiple casualties; and a final climax at a gasoline depot is appropriately noisy if disjointed. Meanwhile, a wayward young assassin selects various targets but almost comically hits everything other than what he aims for.

Sean Connery appears unsure how much to import from his Bond persona and Brooke Adams suffers from Lester's penchant to linger on her face for just too long at every opportunity. Cuba works best if the derivative plot and characters are largely ignored, and the collection of vignettes are admired for their soulful recreation of life during a decadent society's death.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Movie Review: The Salzburg Connection (1972)

A hopelessly muddled mess, The Salzburg Connection is a sorry excuse for a spy thriller.

In Salzburg, American lawyer Bill Mathisen (Barry Newman) is on vacation and running an errand for his boss when he stumbles onto a mystery involving the missing husband of photo shop owner Anna Bryant (Anna Karina). The missing man was taking photos of a lake when he was murdered, and shortly thereafter Bill's client, a certain Mr. Yates, is also dead after paying for pictures of the lake.

Anna's brother Johann (Klaus Maria Brandauer) gets involved in extracting a long-buried Nazi chest from the lake. The reinforced box contains the names of Nazi agents potentially still alive and working in top government positions across the world. International spies from the CIA, Mossad and the seductive Elissa Lang (Karen Jensen) of the KGB are hot in pursuit of the secret cabinet, leading to many more murders.

The Salzburg Connection is an inexcusable and ineptly constructed flop. The adaptation of the Helen MacInnes novel lacks structure, logic and any sense of drama or tension. Director Lee H. Katzin throws undefined characters and events at the screen with haphazard intent, unable to string together a rational narrative or create any empathy for the numerous spies, counterspies and innocent bystanders.

The action moves from lacklustre scenes of surveillance and break-and-enters in Salzburg to dark sequences featuring indiscernible and ambiguous men stalking and killing each other in the forest. Most of the time, it is not clear who is doing what to whom or why, and more to the point, it is never clear why anyone should care.

The central mystery of the Nazi chest is not explained until two thirds of the way into the film, adding to the aimless structure. And once revealed, an abstract list of names is far from a compelling prize to drive all the cheap cloak-and-dagger antics.

The few positives include some pretty scenery, and on just the one occasion, Katzin injects a pulse and conjures up a clever counterintuitive car chase.

Barry Newman delivers a decent Elliot Gould-type performance, while Anna Karina as the grieving widow with a secret and Karen Jensen as the sex kitten spy both deserved better material. Unfortunately, The Salzburg Connection just offers disconnected muck.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Movie Review: The Amsterdam Kill (1977)

A conspiracy thriller, The Amsterdam Kill strides into the dangerous world of international drug trafficking with willing energy but limited sophistication.

In a battle to control the drug trade, several dealers are killed in Hong Kong and Amsterdam. The elderly Chung Wei (Keye Luke), based in Amsterdam, wants out of the escalating violence. He approaches former Drug Enforcement Agency agent Quinlan (Robert Mitchum) to arrange a deal for Wei to turn informant and help bring down a major drug syndicate. Quinlan hires his trusted friend Jimmy (George Cheung) to guard Wei.

Quinlan had retired under a cloud and is now suspicious of the DEA's man in Amsterdam agent Knight (Leslie Nielsen), but convinces his former Hong Kong colleagues agents Odums (Bradford Dillman) and Ridgeway (Richard Egan) to accept the deal. Wei's information is immediately compromised, causing a mounting body count. Quinlan becomes a target, and realizes corruption runs deep and he can trust no one.

A Hong Kong production from Golden Harvest, The Amsterdam Kill is late to catch up with the The French Connection bandwagon but anyway does many things well. The action and character interaction scenes are well-paced, events hop briskly between Hong Kong and Amsterdam, the story is satisfyingly complicated but remains comprehensible, artificial romantic subplots are entirely avoided, and the central character of Quinlan is afforded just enough of a dark past to justify the rough edges and frumpled look.

But this is a relatively limited budget effort, and so the supporting cast is comparatively weak and exclusively male, and all the secondary characters are stiff. However, director Robert Clouse makes the most of the available resources with plenty of short and sharp action scenes, often infused with welcome style. A rolled banknote is lit and wedged into the ear of a murder victim to set-off an explosion, Mitchum and his car are unceremoniously dunked into an Amsterdam canal, and horses run wild in an artificial water channel because the shot looks good in slow motion.

At a tired 60 years old Mitchum appears too creased for the role of an ex-agent still willing to get his hands dirty, but he makes the best of the trudge. And the compact 90 minutes of running time reach an excellent climax at a Dutch countryside nursery: Mitchum dispenses with any need for physical effort by getting behind the gears of some serious machinery and embarking on an expansive and expensive damage-causation exercise. The Amsterdam Kill lacks finesse but knocks down some walls with brute force.

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Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Movie Review: Agent 505: Death Trap In Beirut (1966)

A low-budget Eurospy thriller, Agent 505: Death Trap In Beirut features scenic backdrops but depressingly cheap execution.

Several murders occur in Beirut, and rumours swirl that the killings are connected to a plan to annihilate all 650,000 residents of the city. Interpol's Richard Blake (Frederick Stafford) arrives to help local authorities investigate, and connects with fellow agent Bobby O'Toole (Chris Howland). Their mission is to track down the mysterious four-fingered Sheik believed to be behind the plot.

At the hotel Blake meets attractive journalist Denise (Geneviève Cluny) and tangles with a chambermaid spy and a femme fatale room neighbour with an ex-convict for a husband. Clues lead to industrialist Omar Abdullah and a scheme to steal plutonium and mix it with mercury to poison the entire city. Blake and his allies have limited time to escape numerous henchmen, uncover the mastermind and invade the base of the murderous maniacs.

A German-French-Italian co-production, Death Trap In Beirut features a mostly incomprehensible plot, amateurish execution and awful acting. The on-location filming in a pre-war cosmopolitan Beirut (and more broadly Lebanon) is the only watchable element, writer and director Manfred R. Köhler touring famous landmarks including swish beaches, fancy hotels and the Baalbek ruins.

In a cast devoid of talent the performances are almost painful to watch, with Geneviève Cluny the only bright spark. Leading man Frederick Stafford is stiff in movement and delivery and absolutely wooden in the seduction scenes. He is often upstaged by the more spirited Chris Howland in the sidekick role. The bad guys and evil plotters are faceless, useless, and cackle with insane laughter worthy of children's cartoons.

With no narrative coherence the action moves with metronomic choppiness from restaurants to beaches with frequent stops in hotel rooms, always with an eye to capture women in bikinis or barely covered in bed sheets. Shootouts and punch-ups are staged and filmed with all the polish of the first take in a high school student production. Supposedly clever spy gadgets are not worthy of the name.

With all the tedium and none of the fun of trashy movies, Agent 505 falls into a fatal bore trap.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Movie Review: Escape To Athena (1979)

A World War Two comedy thriller, Escape To Athena is lazy, hazy, and tonally uncoordinated.

It's 1944, and on an occupied Greek island Germany's Major Otto Hecht (Roger Moore) oversees an archeological dig. The forced labour is proved by assorted Allied prisoners of war including Professor Blake (David Niven), Sergeant Judson (Richard Roundtree), and Rotelli (Sonny Bono). Hecht is content sitting out the war and keeping some treasure for himself; Blake obliges by recycling the found artefacts to keep the dig going.

In a nearby village SS commander Major Volkmann (Anthony Valentine) is ruthlessly suppressing the population, while Zeno (Telly Savalas) is leading the local Greek resistance using the whorehouse run by Eleana (Claudia Cardinale) as his HQ. The arrival of talent show performers Charlie Dane (Elliott Gould) and Dottie Del Mar (Stefanie Powers) as new POWs at Hecht's camp adds a new dynamic. Charlie has his eyes on ancient treasure hidden at a local monastery, while Zeno is anticipating an allied invasion and has his orders to move against the occupying Germans.

Emitting the strong stench of a group vacation for underemployed Hollywood stars, Escape To Athena develops ugly blisters in the Greek sun. The Lew Grade production directed by George P. Cosmatos attempts to recreate the classic vibe of movies like The Guns Of Navarone but falls embarrassingly flat. While the setting, uniforms and vehicles hold promise, Cosmatos is never able to assemble them into anything other than settings, uniforms and vehicles waiting in vain for a breath of inspiration. Lame humour rubs against context-free action and plenty of explosions, but all momentum is lost in a stupefyingly bland opening hour.

As the parade of stars galavant across the screen, none are properly introduced or provided with anything resembling a backstory, creating an  emotional void that devours the film. And so the actors default to importing luggage from other projects. Roger Moore continues with the worst of his Bond womanizing mannerisms; Elliot Gould believes he is recreating MASH; Richard Roundtree has no idea what he is doing and gets maybe 10 words of dialogue; and Sonny Bono reads his lines off the nearest tree. Telly Savalas was not told this was a semi-comedy and plays the Greek resistance leader absolutely straight, adding to the tonal confusion.

The second half is marginally better and features three action set-pieces, slapped together but still decent: the mish mash of Allies first attack the German troops in the village; then destroy a submarine refueling depot; and finally assault a monastery high up in the mountains. And still Cosmatos' grip on the material is ghastly. At one point a group of unidentified underwater divers surface to join a battle, just because. Then for no apparent reason a massive intimidating rocket is rolled-out mid-battle complete with mirror-helmeted starship troopers in attendance. The rocket plays no meaningful role in the movie.

Of course the stuntmen do all the work, and all the explosions do not obscure Escape To Athena as a collection of random scenes cobbled together in the futile hope that the editors can create sense out of nonsense.

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