Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Journey Into Fear

(Dainel Mann, 1975)
One of these grey European murder-on-a-boat numbers, with the usual cast of slumming all-stars: Zero Mostel, Donald Pleasance, Shelley Winters, Vincent Price, and - since it's ostensibly a Canadian movie - Yvette Mimieux. The guys are all playing Turks or Arabs - I'm not positive the filmmakers know the difference - which stops being funny the moment Mimieux launches into her "smelly Arab" treatise. That cringeworthy exchange is far from the most glaring example of disruptive stupidity above and beyond the call of an already thickheaded genre. If you're going to do a Big Reveal on a seemingly nice guy who's really a criminal mastermind, it would be a good idea to, you know, establish a character first - Price is on screen for about 45 seconds before he goes demonic. And the leaps of logic that get targeted-for-death oil man Sam Waterston on the boat in the first place pale in comparison to Waterston's own haywire character arc. He cavalierly shrugs off three spectacular murder attempts in the first ten minutes, but half an hour later he's gibbering and flailing at the first sound of a gunshot, and never before has a marked man gravitated so stubbornly to big open spaces where nobody's around.

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