Two years ago, hunting guide Mike Davis was with a client who trespassed on diamond company land and found a rich lode; Paul Vogel, sadistic commandant of company police, beat Mike nearly to death but failed to learn the location. Now Mike is back in Diamantstad, South African desert, and manager Martingale has a better idea: he hires delectable adventuress Suzanne to ferret out Mike's secret. But she soon finds she's playing with fire. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Vogel tries to kiss Suzanne, the lighting changes completely from one cut to the next. See more »
This part of the desert of South Africa, where only a parched camel thorn tree relieves the endless parallels of time, space, and sky, surrounds like a rope of sand the richest diamond-bearing area in the world -- an uneasy land where men inflamed by monotony and the heat sometimes forget the rules of civilization.
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This is the fourth merely adequate Burt Lancaster movie I am watching in a row (as part of my ongoing tribute to him to mark, albeit a month in advance, the fifteenth anniversary of his death) which comes more of a disappointment in this case given the fine director (William Dieterle) and cast (Lancaster, Paul Henried, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, Sam Jaffe and Mike Mazurki) involved. While it is true that Dieterle's career had already peaked with PORTRAIT OF JENNIE (1948) and went slowly downhill from there, the film's main fault lies is in the surprisingly uninteresting (given the desert location and diamond mine setting) plot that fails to give rise to much excitement or memorable incident. Naturally, with a cast of that calibre, some good scenes or lines cannot be amiss and, in particular, Rains (as a Macchiavelian director of the company) and Henried (effectively cast against type as the brutish foreman) seem to be relishing their roles; conversely, Lorre and Jaffe seem wasted in their underwritten parts of, respectively, a philosophizing fence and an alcoholic doctor. Another liability is leading lady Corinne Calvet: while looking sensual enough as the femme fatale hired by Rains to seduce adventurer Lancaster and eventually falling for him, her thick French accent become decidedly grating after a while! Incidentally, the copy I acquired is taken from a German print - with the opening credits in that language but the film, luckily, in English! I suppose it would be interesting to compare Val Guest's film from another era that I also happen to have in my collection - KILLER FORCE aka THE DIAMOND MERCENARIES (1975) - which, apart from the similar theme, also makes use of a stellar cast (Peter Fonda, Telly Savalas, Christopher Lee, Hugh O'Brian and O.J. Simpson) but, unfortunately, I will not have time to do so at present. I do not know if the fact that I have been watching lightweight fare all Summer long has made me lose patience somewhat with more of the same but, clearly, I was expecting to enjoy ROPE OF SAND more than I eventually did. Or, perhaps I am just overly anxious to start the upcoming Halloween Challenge in October...
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