On the remote Norwegian Bear Island, used as a submarine base by the Germans during WW2, U.N. scientist Larsen sends a distress signal using an emergency NATO frequency and is received by scientific vessel Morning Rose.
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A group of people converge on a barren Arctic island. They have their reasons for being there but when a series of mysterious accidents and murders take place, a whole lot of darker motives become apparent. Could the fortune in buried Nazi gold be the key to the mystery? Donald Sutherland and Vanessa Redgrave investigate. Written by
Jonathon Dabell <J.D.@pixie.ntu.ac.uk>
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The UK-Canada co-production treaty of the late Seventies produced a lot of dross. "Bear Island" is better than some of its companions but still no classic.
Alistair MacLean's novel was a turgid affair, written at the start of his long decline as a writer. The film-makers wisely ditch most of his plot but the story they substitute, about an icy hunt for wartime Nazi gold, is no masterpiece of originality. Vanessa Redgrave's Norwegian accent comes and goes (at times, she sounds like the Swedish chef from "The Muppets") and Donald Sutherland tries for depth by speaking - very - very - slowly. Anybody who has seen a few of these films won't take long to guess the identity of the "mystery" villain.
On the credit side, the locations are spectacular and Robert Farnon's music score is appropriately portentous. Don Sharp knows how to direct action (he had been brought in a few years earlier to ginger up another MacLean adaptation, "Pupper On a Chain") and the fights are well-staged.
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