McCallum plays a WWII German special agent assigned to take out a team of Titov resistance fighters in Yugoslavia. He locates their leader in a camp within a ravine in the dead of winter. ...
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McCallum plays a WWII German special agent assigned to take out a team of Titov resistance fighters in Yugoslavia. He locates their leader in a camp within a ravine in the dead of winter. However, the leader's code name beliest that the resistance is being led by a resourceful young woman. After McCallum captures her, a heavy blizzard strikes the ravine, forcing him to take shelter with her in her cabin. The storms seals them away from the war, and they develop an attraction for one another. Eventually, the weather clears and he must make a decision: to take her prisoner or to turn her loose. He decides on the latter. Dressed in their snow camoflage, they each depart along separate sides of the ravine... Written by
A decent WWII drama, shot on a shoestring budget in Yugoslavia with a mixed American, Italian and Yugoslav cast and crew.
In 1942, the war in Yugoslavia is raging full-force. An isolated German unit battles with a small band of Partisans, as the front has moved away from their position. A beautiful Russian sniper aids the Partisans in battling the enemy, so the Germans call in their own man to hunt down and capture her. Not surprisingly, due to circumstances beyond their control, the two find themselves isolated in the snowy forest and must depend on eachother to survive, eventually falling in love.
Well, it's nothing you haven't seen before. The film is essentially a re-make of HELL IN THE PACIFIC, with a romance theme and more physical action. Still, the cast makes the best of it. David McCallum (Mosquito Squadron) is surprisingly good as the German sniper, Sgt. Holman. He is portrayed as a completely human character that only kills when he has to. He is not a killer by nature; rather, he's a hunter who is selected for his outdoor skill and deadly accuracy with weaponry. On the flip side, Nicoletta Machiavelli makes a pretty good counterpart. Here we have a young, beautiful woman doing what one would usually envision as a "Man's Job". This shows just important everyone was to the cause; women were just as involved in Yugoslavia and Russia as the men were. The conflict between the two is well-written and excellently acted, as the relationship slowly progresses from enemies, to comrades, to lovers - reaching an inevitable climactic ending scene.
In support, John Crawford is acceptable as the maniacal German captain, although he only has a few scenes. Demeter Bitenc (Operation Cross Eagles) as a substantial part as a German officer and Lars Bloch (Heroes in Hell) makes a good partisan leader. Unfortunately, these are about the only cast members who get to do anything. Not many other actors or extras are onhand throughout the film. The few combat scenes are badly filmed, with lots of fake-looking action and death scenes as well as a very limited number of extras. What's supposed to be a huge partisan attack looks like a dozen or so men at best churning through the snow aimlessly.
The lack of action is offset by some excellent Yugoslav scenery. Although the film is presented full-frame on home video, the Yugoslav forests look stunning. The snow is beautiful and the people look to be in an angelic paradise even if they are freezing. Camera-work is above average, capturing the emotions of characters perfectly and filling the screen with as much information as possible in even the slowest of scenes. Riz Ortolani's fine score adds some life and hope to the bleak atmosphere.
While the movie does a have a lot going for it (as I hope you can tell from my review), it also has one major strike against it: pacing. The first half of the movie contains some great stalking scenes and plenty of good dialog scenes, but the second half is filled with little action and hardly any dialog to support the onscreen activity. There are lots of very long, drawn-out romantic scenes which fail to develop the characters or push the story forward. These scenes are simply included to fill out the 90 minute running time, and the story would have been a lot better if more action - of any kind - was included in the second half to keep viewers more interested.
This movie was released in the US quite some time ago by InterVision. I received a copy from this videocassette. The quality is not too great. Colors are reasonably accurate, but not at all intense. The image lacks sharpness and clarity in some scenes. The tint control is also pretty bad; in some scenes, the snow looks to have a gross yellow-green glare. The pan-and-scanning is just fine, and nothing major is missing from the sides of the image. Despite the quality, this film is so rare that if you can find it, I recommend buying it.
THE RAVINE is a worthy addition to the ranks of Italian war films. It contains material that has not been touched in any other Italian war movie, and also has plenty of good technical stuff to keep film buffs satisfied. But the whole impact is offset by frustratingly slow pacing. You'll walk away feeling unsatisfied, but not empty either.
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