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|Index||16 reviews in total|
I gave this film an extra two points for the location alone.
The gorgeous coastal town used in Caboblanco was in fact once a favorite retreat of members of a corrupt Mexican regime. The deluxe hilltop mansion, the thatched hotel-bar that Bronson's character runs, palapas lined up at the water's edge, a bare-bones, dingy police office, and so forth: you can't ask for a more convincing backdrop for this tale of international skullduggery.
Caboblanco also gets points for Bronson's spot-on portrayal of an ex-pate living in Mexico because he probably can't go home, the complex and riveting performance by Fernando Rey, and for filling out the cast with several supporting players in a non-linear presentation. There is a denouement at the end, but the film's mood and pacing are not obvious in working to that conclusion. In other words, Caboblanco succeeds in making a viewer feel he/she is eavesdropping on lives in progress.
Admittedly, this is a piece of entertainment, but it strives for something more, and it is NOT an imitation of Casablanca, by a long shot.
My one complaint is that the great Gilbert Roland was not used to more advantage.
Certainly one of the more eccentric of Bronson's starring vehicles, it tries to evoke memories of Casablanca even in its title. Taken apart from that unlikely-to-attain goal, it's fairly interesting, with a few talented cast members to keep it going (though they're not well served by the material). Large chunks of the story are pretty muddled, but as a curiosity piece, it's worth seeking out for Bronson completists.
Director J. Lee Thompson and actor Charles Bronson always made an
interesting team, and this particular effort was the last one I needed
to see. Compared with most of their collaborations in the 80s, this is
a diamond in the rough and quite an off-kilter, old-fashion adventure /
mystery story that sets out to be intriguing and creates a nice feel of
the times, than anything relying on Bronson handing out nasty
punishment. Well on that point, the violence when it does eventuate is
surprisingly brutal, if quick and too the point. When it happens, it
comes from nowhere. However Bronson is given a chance to spread his
wings, and act with confidence and stalwart appeal. It's a terrifically
surly, down-played performance by Chuck in a suitable heroine role.
Working off Bronson is a tremendously solid cast. Jason Robards' is
subtly powerful in a fine turn and Fernando Rey's sly style always
amuses. Dominique Sanda displays a potently classy presence. The
support cast rounding it off are just as good with Simon Mac
Corkindale, Dennis Millar, Clifton James and Camilla Sparv.
Looming from the presentation is a film-noir tone, and I don't really get the 'Casablanca' references (from it being a rip-off to an unfunny spoof) made about it. There's no denying it's rather talky though, but the script is involving and smartly weaved together. This works due to the screenplay having a busy (if muddled) plot and still keeping a breezy (almost brooding) air to it. Some contrived, and convenient actions occur, and the drama can seem a little uncertain. But it never becomes a worry. Also how they used the breathtakingly erotic Mexican backdrop in the action was accordingly staged and well-framed. Talk about nice sight seeing. The swirling, wide-screen camera-work had that ability to capture that organic sense of place, although the underwater shots came off terribly murky. Thompson's direction is undoubtedly workman-like, slow and effective on a much larger scale, despite the dreary look to its visual styling. Jerry Goldsmith's rousing melancholic score is picture-perfect. Everything boils up to an thrilling climax, as the calmness makes way for a stormy (literally) confrontations of two men, who share something in common, but how they go about things are entirely different. They have a past they like to forget, and this is their chance for that to happen and put away that lingering fear of something catching up.
One of Bronson's interestingly obscure oddities, which unjustly flopped and deserves an audience.
p.s I would love to see a good DVD print of this film, because the grainy VHS copy I rented doesn't do it any justice.
There are so many bad reasons to see films that seeing CaboBlanco
simply because it has (along with The Salamander) one of Jerry
Goldsmith's most obscure scores doesn't seem quite such a stupid one,
especially since the score is pretty good. Although it never matches
its magnificent Ravelesque opening, let alone the extraordinary work
Goldsmith was doing at the same period (Star Trek, The Boys From
Brazil, The First Great Train Robbery, Magic, The Swarm, Masada,
Poltergeist), it's another case of a composer being inspired by a bad
film to turn out a good score that's still head and shoulders over 99%
of film scoring today.
The film itself is certainly an oddity, an attempt to do a Casablanca in post-war Peru, but Charles Bronson, Dominique Sanda, Simon MacCorkindale, Fernando Rey and Jason Robards were never likely to offer much competition to Bogie, Bergman, Heinreid, Rains and Veidt even had the script been better. (There's no Dooley Wilson or As Time Goes By, but Nat King Cole does turn up on the jukebox singing The Very Thought of You.) Sanda in particular, as usual in her English language work, is so staggeringly awful you half-expect her to bump into the furniture, although she gets strong competition from MacCorkindale in the who-can-give-the-worse-performance stakes, but an easygoing Bronson at least is good value. Feeling more like one of RKO's mid 50s SuperScope South of the Border treasure hunt movies than anything from Warners' golden age, the film at times feels like its suffered some last-minute editing, jumping into some scenes apparently midway while some characters are never introduced properly (prominently billed Clifton James never appears at all), and the ending involving a parrot, a secret code, a stuck record on a jukebox and a cyanide pill is one of the most absurd endings in screen history. Still, there's some fluid and impressively composed Scope camera-work and the scenery's nice.
It's an odd candidate for restoration, but the German DVD does at least boast a good 2.35:1 transfer, though the soundtrack doesn't fare so well.
It seems like almost all Hollywood stars have to have their own version
Even Shakespeare plays must not have attracted so many varied 'interpretations'.
Even Charles Bronson ?!
But surprisingly the movie is still a typical Bronson movie. Factor in the nudity, the fights, the thrills, and the 'he-men' that populate your regular Bronson movie.
I personally found the ending a bit'weak and maybe obscure'; but it helps to differentiate the movie from being a direct Casablanca copy.
Overall, it stands up OK for die-hard Bronson fans.
A big fan of j lee thompson and charles bronson i found this movie
worth a watch. its very layed back and old school like a visit to your
folks.its south American local and tropic feel was a real plus and
Charley was in in good form.but thompson was slumming it a bit,maybe
enjoying the sun to much.the pace was slow even for this sort of film.
i think i could of enjoyed it more if the copy i had was any good, but it is poor with only the widescreen formate save it from being unwatchable. it is such a rare movie that i was happy enough to see it at all.
if you enjoy 70's style movies and gumshoe movies give it a go its good late night fodder.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The third collaboration between star Charles Bronson and veteran
British director J Lee Thompson is, like its predecessor The White
Buffalo, a strange beast but this time the collaboration doesn't quite
manage produce something interesting. An all-star caper set in South
America after the close of World War Two, Capo Blanco shows a disparate
group of International adventurers going after what turns out to be a
hoard of treasure looted by the Nazis during the war. The image of Capo
Blanco as a melting pot of various International chancers gives the
place in image as well as name a nod to Casablanca. The ex-patriot
American protagonist, Giff (Bronson), runs a bar in town just like Rick
in the classic and the supporting characters echo figures who once
listened to the "You must remember this" refrain an ultimately good
but morally compromised police chief (Fernando Rey doing Claude Rains),
a wicked Nazi (Jason Robards for Conrad Veidt) and a mysterious,
beautiful woman with Paris in her past (Dominique Sanda standing for
Ingrid Bergman). There is an awkwardness to the film, as if Thompson is
unsure as to whether this is an homage or a pastiche.
Thompson, in his later years especially, was a filmmaker whose world-view was riddled with misanthropy. Here he tries to take what Wilde might have termed a bank holiday from cynicism, as he confesses in a short "Making of" documentary filmed during the shoot, where he identifies the post-war setting as " an era of romanticism, an age when things seemed to have a drive and excitement of their own, when values were considered to be important and the feeling that the hero in the end should triumph and that you could root for good against bad. We've lost a lot of that, as indeed we should do in the modern cinema. But that is occasionally something which should occasionally appear on the screens when we're making a film today." Cabo Blanco is an exercise in nostalgia but it is exercising muscles in Thompson which had long-since wasted away. For the most part Cabo Blanco a tired film. The story is told without any real effort at audience engagement. Most of the excellent cast are on auto-pilot. Yet this is the logical consequence of its nostalgic romanticism.
The denouement, a long and not very well-paced scene in Giff's bar, sees the moral of the film being played out, yet it is as if the figures are animated waxworks re-enacting scenes from a no longer living past. The police chief, who has up until now assisted the Nazi in the search for the treasure, learns that it is loot from "Churches, synagogues, death camps" and so jumps ship, joining the good guys. He regains, in Giff's words, "his soul". The film dramatises a moment when the post-war allies had the moral high ground and where their rectitude could persuade others that they were indeed the good guys. This is a legend now, as the film self-consciously admits in a series of mythologising voice-overs, and Thompson can only repeat it, parrot it. The plot self-consciously involves a parrot's memory. It as if the myth were preserved in aspic, no longer a living thing. The epilogue, over which the voice over tells us that "the legend ( ) grew and grew and Cabo Blanco prospered", shows Giff with a swanky house on a hill with the girl, living the good life. A good life built of the legend that he is a good guy.
Yet Giff, as his back-story tells us, is a murderer. And as a murderer, he himself is on the run from gas chambers not in Nazi Germany but in the good old USA. Even when making a piece of supposedly romantic nostalgia, Thompson cannot help but let his cynicism seep out.
"Caboblanco" is a nice and rare treat for any Bronson/Robards/Thompson
fan. Don't believe what every review says. There are only a few movies
where Bronson puts down the gun and turns up his acting charm.
Throughout out the 80s, he starred in a huge bunch of Cannon
Popcorn-Actioners. They where just mindless and fun comic book
thrillers. "Caboblanco" is one of the few Bronson suspense films where
he gives an all-star performance. He doesn't need to be in an action
film to give a solid performance. His scenes with Dominique Sanda are a
joy and fun to watch and his scenes with Robards the greatest in the
Like any good movie, it did have it's flaws. "Caboblanco" has been labeled as an action film and a "remake" of "Casablanca." I highly disagree with both. It's more of a suspense/drama. The plot was a little boring and some scenes are just that. Of coarse, it's not a real Bronson movie without some violence, so there are a few action scenes placed nicely in the film. He throws quite a few punches and handles a gun here and there. But like I said earlier, it's not about the action in this movie. There are a few DVD copies on the net, so if your a hardcore Bronson/Robards/Thompson fan, I recommend you check this out. Although, there are a few boring scenes, it's a well made suspense/drama with a great cast. Scenes with Bronson and Robards are the best if the film! They make a great team. 10/10
Judging solely from the cool poster art (featuring a mean looking
Bronson with a .357 magnum in hand) I expected a gritty 70s/80s style
crime flick with the main twist being that it's set in a tropical Latin
American location instead of the typical NYC or LA. Instead what we get
is a 1940s era neo-noir with shades of 'Casablanca'. I guess I would
have been fine with that as it would have been an interesting change of
pace for a Bronson flick (so long as it were accompanied by plenty of
hard-hitting action). However whatever potential this film had quickly
deteriorates as the plot becomes nothing more than a lame, slow paced,
sunken treasure movie.
Highlights include a few creative(though underwhelming) action scenes, topless Latina chicks, and appearances by Fernando Rey and Jason Robards (who isn't very convincing as a German expatriate). Even a cameo by a talking parrot can't save it. Avoid.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Caboblanco" is not a bad movie, but you can easily divide its
strengths and weaknesses. Fernando Rey and Jason Robards are the
strongest actors. They both deliver great performances as they usually
do. Charles Bronson does a solid job too. I think that he is often
underrated as an actor, because of the decent quality of most of his
movies. J. Lee Thompson directs this one in classy old-school-manner
that could have produced a far better movie in case the script would
have been above average, which it is not. The cinematography, the
photography and the choice of locations are truly first rate. And J.
Lee Thompson had the spirit and the feel of a director. He was born to
do, what he did.
Most of the supporting actors are pretty cool as well. But Dominique Sanda was a miscast. Her wooden and strangely impersonal acting did confuse me from the very beginning. She seems to be completely lost in nearly every scene and any suggestions of mystery to her character are not convincing at all. The chemistry between her and Cliff (Charles Bronson) doesn't work out at all and that's a pity, because everything else and everybody else seem so carefully chosen.
But the main point to criticize is the script. It delivers some nice ideas, but too many loose ends and open questions. Why do scuba divers let the submarine explode that obvious, though they must have known, that the wreck was not the one everybody's looking for? Why did they kill the fisherman, who was diving for oysters for centuries? How come that Cliff was perfectly placed to rescue him, when the British agent Lewis was trying to escape through the jungle? These plot holes do not fit to an excellent script, which only could lead to an excellent movie. It's a pity, because Caboblanco already got many fine ingredients: competent actors, a perfect score by Jerry Goldsmith, marvelous locations and a stunning cinematography! In the end it's only a decent action flick worth watching once for fans of Charles Bronson and/or J. Lee Thompson.
It's interesting to realize that the theatrical version of "Caboblanco" shown in Argentina is 15 minutes (!) longer than the one we watch nowadays in the US or Europe on DVD. My whole impression of the movie might have been influenced by the fact that it was heavily cut, which seems to be possible as soon I think of those "plot holes" I already mentioned. I think it's necessary to get that uncut 102 minute print to be published as soon as possible.
Last but not least: Do not forget to check out the perfect Bronson/Thompson collaboration "Murphy's Law" (1986), which is the most underrated B-movie of the decade.
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