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Just prior to World War One the hard drinking sharpshooting, Irish American Colonel Flynn O'Flynn, uses British aristocrat Sebastian Oldsmith to help poach ivory from German controlled territory in East Africa, putting them at odds with Herman Fleischer, the local German Provincial Commander. When Sebastian is infected with malaria he is nursed back to health by Flynn's daughter Rosa, they fall in love and marry. Not long after Britain declares war on Germany and they are drawn into the conflict, ultimately making a daring attack on the German armored cruiser SMS Blücher as it undergoes repairs in a local estuary. Written by
Chris Frost <email@example.com>
On the whole, this is a mostly faithful adaptation of Wilbur Smith's novel and a cracking adventure story.
Shortly before the outbreak of World War One, Irish poacher Flynn recruits a clueless, upper-class Englishman named Sebastian to help him steal ivory from German-occupied territory in Africa. For a while, the pair make a great team and succeed at humiliating the local German officer, Fleisher - but the fun comes to a sudden end when war is declared and Fleisher gets a chance for revenge.
As others have mentioned, this is definitely a film of two halves, as much as the book was. But the rollicking pace and sweeping storyline offer all manner of scrapes and situations that the film is never less than enjoyable. Lee Marvin is thoroughly amusing as the drunken poacher who flits between immature outbursts at those around him and total inebriation. Roger Moore is also impressive as Flynn's opposite, Sebastian, whose a gentleman at first but quickly learns to toughen up as the story becomes more serious.
Supporting characters are also memorable, with Fleisher a mixture of comical and nastiness. Barbara Parkins plays Flynn's daughter and Sebastian's romantic interest with fiestiness and Ian Holm is amusing as Flynn's mute assistant Mohammed.
In terms of action, the film has plenty to offer; gunfights, fistfights, shipwrecks and man-eating crocs for a start. This is all edited in the same frantic style that Peter Hunt's 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' was, giving a lot of energy to the film. I also love Maurice Jarre's score for 'Shout at the Devil'; epic and tense.
While 'Shout at the Devil' is a cracking yarn and I have loved it since I was little, the bad news is that no decent version currently exists on DVD. German characters (who spoke English in the film) have now been dubbed into German, which is one thing... but no subtitles(!) mean that entire scenes become useless and impossible to follow for the rest of us.
There is of course the issue of running time and to be honest I can't remember if I've actually seen the full version or not (it's been a while). Some TV companies have been known to show the full version and, because of the awful DVD versions, it's a case of pot-luck that anyone sees the film as it should be (I personally have held onto a VHS recording from 1988 which is wearing very thin now).
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