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Roman Hernández Cordova
George Castle Jr.,
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Lee Van Cleef,
Puerto Rico and some nice night fire shooting, but otherwise a middling affair
This is a run of the mill and rather dismissible movie with two or three odd qualities that might appeal to some. One is the inclusion of Lee Van Cleef (of Spaghetti Western fame). The other is photographer Karl Struss who three decades earlier did two terrific (and beyond terrific) movies, "Sunrise" (as co-cinematographer) and "Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde."
The third aspect is simply the setting, Puerto Rico circa 1958. It would be more fun to see a movie set in Cuba in 1958 of course, right before the revolution, but here is a Caribbean counterpart, with certain parallels. Most of the action takes place at a sugar plantation that could have been either country, but it really was filmed in Aguirre, P.R. and acknowledges this at the start. The director, Kurt Neumann, is a famous B-movie hack director and the movie lets its low budget show throughout, but the setting is what it is and there is some small benefit there. An early scene shows locals in a celebratory dance which is fun if a bit touristic for the audience.
Struss doesn't exactly shine in this film but there are a lot of "good" shots and a number of night shots including most (but not all--bad editing there) of the fire scenes are night, and well done! It's the climax of the movie, and you knew it was coming since they mentioned it at the start and it's too cinematic to avoid. The three or four main characters all get intertwined in this final scene, and if the acting is pretty awful, the idea is pretty great.
See this? No, I wouldn't bother, unless one of the aspects above appeals very much. It won't bore you--it's actually pretty fast and has a bunch of shifts in plot to keep you watching. But it will constantly seem clunky.
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