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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.
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.
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.
This is very slickly made film which sadly doesn't have a good
reputation or a decent widescreen release. The camera-work on the film
is excellent with much moving camera a great score and good locations.
The odd thing is the bursts of full frontal nudity and one really graphic death scene. These seem to be included for fans of Bronson's gritty films but seem totally out of place here.
Sondra is dull as usual. Bronson solid. Robards doesn't seem to want to be bothered by doing a German accent. It has real visual sweep. Odd rather forced voice over which seems to be trying to set this up for a sequel perhaps at the end.
Despite these forced elements--of violence, nudity,and nostalgia--the bulk of the film works as a mystery and intrigue--rather than say action. One of the few of director Thompson's later films that really hearken back to his early Hollywood career of sweeping location quasi epics.
Ending builds suspense only to pay it off in an offbeat--and perhaps off putting way for some.
Deserves more respect and proper restoration than it gets especially among the later career of Bronson.
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.
It is no secret that Charles Bronson became a star in Europe before he
became one in the US because of Death Wish. In Cabo Blanco, somewhat a
takeoff of 'Casablanca', Bronson starred in the most European looking
of all his movies. Yes he did films in Europe like Love and Bullits,
and there is a brief sequence in Naples of the superior 'The Mechanic.'
But due to casting, it has a feel of a European movie, the most since
Someone Behind the Door'. Of course, the film does take place in Peru,
and was filmed in Mexicao, but certainly the participation of the film
with Dominique Sanda, Fernando Rey, and Camilla Spav certainly gives
the film that feel. Also it is only the other time that Bronson worked
with Jason Robards, (Once Upon a Time in The West) this time as a
It is also perhaps the most romantic film that Bronson has done, and all though he was 58 when he did the film, he looks the younger than he had ever looked since his role as Jeff in 'Violent City'.
It is also a curious puzzle in Bronson's career, as it did not get much theatrical play in the US, if at all. Why this is has never been explained. On first viewing, it is an entertaining film, at least I was when I first saw it in 86 on video. Perhaps one of the problems also was that it was short at 87 minutes, and Bronson's popularity was on decline, though, sadly, the Cannon films with Death Wish II, and 10 to Midnight, with its incredible violence would shoot Bronson back up to big box office status.
It would be, I believe, the last time we would see Bronson without a shirt on. Perhaps he might have been having trouble keeping that athletic looking body that he had, less than 20 years later he would need a hip replacement.' In fact, in the film, he is seen that way from the back, as he walks away from camera, it is almost as if he is saying through this scene, you won't see me with my shirt off again.
This is a fun movie to watch, also if you are a person who likes to see a lot of naked women, you won't be disappointed. Though I don't recommend it for that.
The film does have its flaws though, The song 'The Very Thought Of You, gets played to many times that it becomes a cliché. Also the climax, and some of the scenes before that are so contrived and silly. I would also suggest that it is condescending to some of the supposedly native Peruvians, though this might harkin back to the days of the 40 American movies, which have some scenes which begin in black and white. However, if you think about it, the ending shot is ironic, and can make one think. The narration does add a veneer of sophistication to the film. Listen very closely at the end, as you might miss some important details.
"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
*** 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.
I found Cabo Blanco an enjoyable movie. The film was made in Cabo
Blanco, a lovely spot on Mexico's west coast that's gaining in
popularity. It stood in for Peru. Bronson, Robards and Rey make the
movie work, as do the beautiful setting and quirks in the script that
leave one guessing. These three are top-notch actors. Rey's role is an
interesting nuanced one of a policeman under the thumb of Robards. The
IMDb rating of 5.6 is about right as to its overall quality, which is
The other reviews are helpful. One points out that the 88-minute version is actually shy by 15 minutes, accounting perhaps for some rough editing. The Jerry Goldsmith score is, as usual, very good. Dominique Sanda is way too laid back, non-acting in the blank style of Catherine Deneuve. Sanda is a half-hearted femme fatale. The beautiful Camilla Sparv has a nice little part as a lush being kicked out by the ex-Nazi Jason Robards. Gilbert Roland as a doctor has almost a walk-on, with hardly any lines. Three reviewers note the resemblance of the story to a 40s noir or 50s RKO adventure-noir movie in color. Yes, it's like "Dangerous Mission" and "Second Chance", the latter taking place in Mexico. Another reviewer points out the parallels with "Casablanca" in character, and this is entirely accurate, and yet the story is completely different from Casablanca! The plot holes picked up by another reviewer do indeed exist, but the editing may account for it.
In the end, we lap up the scenes with Bronson while we wait to see the confrontations of Bronson with Robards with Rey being in the middle. Bronson is relaxed and doesn't have much to do in the way of fisticuffs or gunplay, but he does fight a bit, display intelligence, show a lot of gumption and move like a cat. Bronson still delivers the goods in this movie, even without a lot of violence. That lies in his past, as he plays here an expatriate to Peru who has killed a man.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Charles Bronson reteams once more with veteran British director J.
Lee-Thompson for a typically violent movie in their usual style. One
difference this time round is the unusual period and locale, but away
from these slightly-out-of-the-ordinary details the film is very much
more of the same from this long-running actor-director partnership.
What's going on in the bay off Peruvian seaside town Caboblanco in 1948? The British are busily searching the seabed for something, hiding behind a cock-and-bull story that they're carrying out scientific research. A newcomer in town, the beautiful but mysterious Marie (Dominique Sanda) claims to be an ex-Resistance agent looking for someone she used to know. And on the hill overlooking the bay, Nazi war criminal Beckdorf (Jason Robards) is also desperate to lay his hands on whatever lies lost at the bottom of the ocean. An American fugitive running a seedy bar, Giff Hoyt (Charles Bronson), is concerned by all the strange comings and goings in his town, and decides to investigate further. He discovers that everyone is after a precious cargo which went down with a ship several years earlier; but no-one seems to know exactly where the vessel's final resting place actually is. Or is there someone mixed up in the whole thing who may know more than they're letting on?
Plus points include colourful location work, a more-animated-than-usual Bronson performance, a strong supporting cast and a stirring score by Jerry Goldsmith. Negatives include clichés galore, an unclear and sometimes bewildering script, and too many absurdly unnecessary flashes of violence and nudity. One spear-through-the-eyeball moment in particular comes completely out of the blue, and would seem more at home in a gory early 80s slasher pic than a period adventure like this. Having said that, it all builds decently to a rather tense and well-handled final scene at Bronson's bar where our hero and the Robards character endure a final battle of wits. Not perfect by a long shot, but there are plenty worse ways you could while away 100 minutes.
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