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Bruce Campbell arrives in Canada to take over his grandfather's inheritance, an area on the Rockies know as Campbell's Kingdom. Told by doctors he has a short time to live he just a wants to live quietly up at his grandfathers house in peace. But he soon learns that a dam is being build that will flood Campbell's Kingdom. After locals who gave money to his grandfather believing there to be oil but losing their money, they all want the dam to be build to give them jobs. Bruce given a letter from his grandfather that says he believes there is oil in Campbell's Kingdom, which would stop the work on the dam. Bruce decides to try and clear his grandfathers name and his claim about the oil. In the progress he has to face the forces of nature and ruthless contactor Owen Mogan. Written by
Campbell's Kingdom is directed by Ralph Thomas and adapted to screenplay by Robin Estridge from the Hammond Innes novel. It stars Dirk Bogarde, Stanley Baker, Michael Craig, Barbara Murray, James Robertson Justice, Athene Seyler, Robert Brown, John Laurie and Sid James. Music is by Clifton Parker and cinematography by Ernest Steward.
With only six months to live, Bruce Campbell (Bogarde) arrives in the township of Come Lucky in the Rockies to take up his grandfather's inheritance. The inheritance is a valley area known as Campbell's Kingdom, a place where Bruce's grandfather insisted to his dying day that it held oil, something which caused a major rift in the township. Bruce arrives to a hostile reception, and told that his inheritance will not be allowed to stop the building of new dam, the building of which is ethically wrong but is the source of employment for most of the townsfolk. Bruce, fragile and short of friends, is determined to prove his grandfather was a honourable and correct man and so goes toe to toe with the ruthless dam builders led by Owen Morgan (Baker).
The film makers take their time to build the characters and their part in the plot. Film then deftly builds up a head of steam in the second half where we are treated to genuine thrills as dirty tricks and action sequences go hand in hand. Beautifully photographed in Eastman Color by Steward (Cortina d'Ampezzo in Italy standing in for The Rockies), film is essentially a variant on Western movie staples that saw two opposing work forces (cattlemen/farmers/railroad/stageline etc) going against each other with pain and misery sure to surface. Here it's the delicate grace of Bogarde against the brawn of Baker, and both men are excellent in their portrayals. Around them are a bunch of more than competent performers to further add weight to the character dynamics, while the art department have come up with some decent sets and model work for when the story is away from the great outdoors. It's not all convincing, but the action and effects are good value in entertainment terms, while some romance helps things along considerably; even if it ultimately leads to an irritating twist at the finale.
You could maybe be irked by the lack of location based accents, and even question the ethics on both sides of the argument here as the land is set up to be raped by man, but really why let such quibbles stop your enjoyment of this immensely satisfying entertainment? 7.5/10
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