During World War One a British aristocrat, an American entrepreneur and the latter's attractive young daughter, set out to destroy a German battle-cruiser which is awaiting repairs in an inlet just off Zanzibar.
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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The picture included such story elements as "exotic tropical settings, man-eating crocodiles, air and sea combat, shipwreck, big game hunting, natives on a rampage, ticking time bombs, rape and fire, malaria" according to show-business trade paper 'Variety'. See more »
The crocodile that approaches Flynn after he has been shot has four fingers and a thumb on each hand, revealing it to be a human in a suit. See more »
This rollicking, exotic adventure is one that happens to be inspired by a true story. It gets some mileage out of the teaming of Lee Marvin and Sir Roger Moore, who for a while are at each others' throats. It does go on for an awful long time, and have silly digressions, but that should be no problem for patient viewers who don't mind a film that takes its time telling a story. There is a good portion of the running time with strong comic overtones, until politics and the reality of war rear their ugly head. Then our ne'er-do-well main character must take on a mission for reasons that aren't purely selfish.
Marvin plays rascally American ivory poacher Flynn O'Flynn in the African country of Zanzibar in 1913. He makes the acquaintance of "young" Englishman Sebastian Oldsmith (Moore, who was in his late 40s during filming, but looks good regardless). Oldsmith is stranded in Zanzibar because his property is stolen from a hotel and he is now unable to sail to Australia, which was his plan. He becomes O'Flynns' sidekick, and joins in as the jovial scoundrel makes constant battles with German commissioner Herman Fleischer (Reinhard Kolldehoff). Eventually they will take part in a daring plan to destroy a German vessel docked for repairs in Zanzibar.
The filmmakers, led by director Peter R. Hunt ("Death Hunt"), are quick to remind viewers that they made no move to actually harm animals (there are disclaimers at both the beginning and the end of the film), in case any animal lovers watching get squeamish during some scenes. They deliver a fairly engrossing and rousing action / comedy /drama that really comes to life through the chemistry between Marvin and Sir Roger. Marvin has never been quite this hammy, to the best of this viewers' recollection, and that includes his Oscar winning comedic performance in "Cat Ballou". Still, he's quite watchable, as is the lovely Barbara Parkins ("Valley of the Dolls") as Marvins' daughter and a strong supporting cast also including Karl Michael Vogler, Horst Janson, Maurice Denham, Murray Melvin, and George Coulouris. The real scene stealer for much of the two hour 30 minute run time is Ian Holm, cast as O'Flynns' mute associate Mohammed. The snarling Kolldehoff makes for an effective bad guy.
The music by Maurice Jarre is good, as is the use of eye catching African locations and the expansive widescreen photography. All in all, this is a somewhat predictable but pleasing diversion.
Seven out of 10.
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