Director Edgar G. Ulmer is mostly famous for one of the best film noirs ever made, Detour (1945)and therefore I was curious to see what else he has made.
This adventure drama about a group of people that gets trapped inside a fallout shelter/cave, is a exciting albeit slightly flawed film.
The group consists of a retired general(Brian Aherne), now working as war correspondent, a GI joe(John Saxon) who has been stripped of his rank,an Italian soldier( Nino Castelnuovo), army publicist(Larry Hagman) escorting the general, Italian civilian(Rosanna Schiaffino), Canadian POW(Peter Marshall) and a German soldier(Hans von Borsody) Despite different background, gender, these people must learn to co-operate in order to escape. There are some great scenes here when looking at this group and dynamics between them.
This film is like classical excerise in a philosophical discussion about ethics, human values and the darwinian model for survival.
Asking questions like:
Who is best leader?
Do everyone deserve a fair share of the small amount of food?
These and other vital questions are what film deals with and in way the film reflects society in a smaller scale.
The acting is very good and is surprise for modern viewers to see actors like Larry Hagman, now mostly famous for his role as JR Ewing in the soap opera Dallas, here showing a wider range then usual.
Same thing can be said about John Saxon who has(and still have) a long career, playing all kinds of characters. Here he does a good job playing a street smart soldier with disciplinary difficulties.
Rosanna Schiaffino is a new face for me but she is very believable as the only female stuck in cave surround by men. She very attractive something that causes tensions within the group.
Who should she choose?
Brian Aherne is just excellent, he plays his character with great subtlety, someone whos old ways doesn't really fit in with rest of the group. Time seems to have run away from him, and he can't keep up.
This film seems to be a lowbudget feature but Edgar G. Ulmer knew what he was doing, using the outmost of his small resources. The biggest flaw is in the script, where some character archs don't develop properly, the film is too long and should been shorter.
So future viewers that liked Lifeboat (1944), The Edge (1997), Sands of the Kalahari (1965)should get a kick out of this one.
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