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Additionally titled BURNING MAN and FLASH FIRE for its various releases, this Australian made film, shot in New South Wales is problematic for its producers from its outset due to several personality conflicts and extended shooting time that prematurely uses up its allocated budget, and although the storyline is at times nicely detailed, below standard post-production finishing and overmuch cutting jettisons the affair. Tom Skerritt plays as Howard Anderson, an American entrepreneur with a "passion for building" who is in process of erecting a tourist hotel in the Blue Mountains region, all the while unaware that his business partner, Julian Fane (Guy Doleman) has insured the incomplete structure for ten million dollars, far more than its actual worth, and plans its destruction as corollary to normal summer brush fires in order to collect a handsome sum through fraud. In line with this illicit scheme, Fane arranges for an arsonist to perform the incendiary deed, a young man who also happens to be the boyfriend of Anderson's daughter, and due to the future resort's being in the midst of a critical fire hazard sector (one of the many unexplained elements of the screenplay) Julian has every expectation that his dastardly design will come about without serious hindrance. As the local insurance firm victimized by the crime is majority owned by Fane, the policy's naturally skeptical underwriters, Lloyd's of London, deploy senior investigator George Engels (James Mason) to probe into the nature of the felony, made more sinister because of the death, possibly a homicide, of an insurance investigator (Wendy Hughes) who, in following clues was apparently coming close to the cause of the arson. The setting for the film is the week before Christmas, capstone of summer in the Antipodes, a dramatic background, but the links within the story are not smoothly compounded, resulting in the presentation of events that are rather difficult for a viewer to follow, a problem heightened by erratic editing, the mentioned heavy cutting, and poor sound and picture quality. Skerritt's semi-comatose and droning style is fatally invalidated by this dim sound processing but Mason is very effective, as ever, and enjoys the best dialogue with Hughes impressive as the too early written-out investigator; Doleman wins acting laurels with his performance as the malevolent Julian Fane.
I've been on a bad run of films. This is a clinker about an arson plot and a psychopath. Tom Skerrit, whom I really enjoy, was pretty young here. He is a builder with a passion, but he has a partner whose profit motive includes over-insuring and burning. Into the mix comes an agent, who is drowned, his daughter, and her nut-case boyfriend. James Mason plays the insurance investigator. Any idiot, given a little warning, would know something was rotten in the nation of Australia. Still, they bumble their way. The most interesting thing to me was that the huge hotel that was going to be built, never got beyond being a bunch of sticks. Low budget, I guess. The plot could have been interesting. Maybe they should have hired a film editor (the did?). Half the time you don't know where the characters are, but I guarantee a five million dollar payoff would have probably made a close watch on the structure mandatory. It doesn't work. Although there is lots of neat fire.
Again we've flown a few American imports over to Oz, again to make something unexceptional. Shot mostly in the beautiful rugged and scenic Blue Mountains (a place I gotta see) the story is set in the week of 1983 leading up to Christmas, day by day. Adelaide'n I am, I remember that week well. Some nut, and it's pretty obvious who he is, is doing someone's dirty work, lighting fires, every Sunday in fact, ruining one enterprising architect/developer's (Skerrit) business, and grand plans for a new hotel, in the name of a big fee of compensation/insurance fraud by some big guns. On the whole, this film-thriller is messily structured, which I can see what could be confusing a lot of viewers. The story is quite good, and if given better insight, and a hell of a lot of better structure, we would of had a much better product. Skeritt is Skeritt, while Mason is very strong as an insurance investigator, from Llyods of London, a name I heard around the traps in my younger years. Pity the great Hughes, was killed off early in the film, while taking one too many swims in Manly, and she really likes to go far out, before lying flat across the water surface, and guess what happens from there. The psycho even confronts her momentarily, when she's sun baking prefore. Barrett as a bit of a shady fireman, is wasted. As in thrillers, especially like in The Bone Collector, we spent a little too much time with Barrett. It's a little trick in thrillers, called suspension of disbelief, making us think it's him, where it distracts us from the real killer, which this is done early in the film. But I'll never forget the scene with the little daughter of the big gun, Julian Kane, Skeritt's boss, wearing that big dolls hat, while eating up her ice cream, and the younger sleazy dude rocks up. Another unintentional funny scene in Aussie cinema. In my opinion it's the best scene of the film, yet the climax was explosive one could say. But like I said, the movie's a mess and doesn't spend too much time in one place. The thing I love about A Dangerous Summer though, as you feel the searing heat and sweat where tempers boil, much like Heatwave, and Summer fan that I am, this counts for something.
American builder (Skerritt) living in Australia, building a luxury
hotel in the Blue Mountains teams up with Lloyds of London insurance
investigator (Mason) after his half-built hotel is razed in an apparent
bushfire. The hotel's co-owner and financier (Doleman) has insured the
partially-built hotel at an inflated value fuelling suspicions that the
blaze may have been deliberately lit.
Typical of a lot of Australian thrillers made in the late seventies to late eighties, with a couple of international stars (Skerritt, Mason) parachuted in to give a local production some international clout. Mason is very good, as always, as the wily English gentleman whose nose for suspicion and eye for detail, belie his otherwise mild, elderly appearance. Skerritt is dependable and the supporting cast is home-grown talent of the era (notably Wendy Hughes who again loses her kit in the memorable surf scene).
Plodding and at times lacking momentum, the suspense does eventually build to a tense climax and despite all the plot holes, is quite an entertaining conclusion. Memorable for probably three scenes (the surf encounter, derailment and the aforementioned climax), the film benefits from Mason's presence in particular, elevating the picture to "average" status, where the otherwise lacklustre direction and pacing conspired to drag it down. Not a great arson film, but has its moments.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An intriguing idea comes to nothing in this dull thriller from director
Quentin Masters. An unusual setting in the Blue Mountains of Australia;
a promising-looking cast including Tom Skerritt, James Mason and Guy
Doleman; and an interesting-sounding plot about insurance fraud and
the pieces are undoubtedly all there for a good film, but sadly
the film completely fails to capitalise on them.
American emigrant Howard Anderson (Tom Skerritt) is a partner in an ambitious project to build a holiday resort in the Blue Mountains of Australia. A week before Christmas (mid-summer in the Southern Hemisphere) a raging bush fire almost destroys the unfinished compound and only Anderson's foolhardy bravery keeps the flames at bay. Later, Anderson learns that the other partner Julian Fane (Guy Doleman) has insured the holiday resort for a vastly inflated ten million dollars but the policy expires on New Year's Eve. Australian insurance investigator Sophie McCann (Wendy Hughes) smells a rat and is convinced the near-destruction of the resort was the work of an arsonist. She is murdered before she can investigate further. Lloyds of London dispatch their own investigator, George Engels (James Mason), to find out if foul play is taking place. He teams up with Anderson, who by now also believes something wicked is afoot, and together they try to piece together the arsonist's 'modus operandi' and plan a way of luring him/her into a trap.
From a glance at the plot summary, there's no obvious reason why A Dangerous Summer should fail as a film. But, of course, the success or failure of any movie is all in the handling and on this occasion, the handling is poor in almost all departments. Photographically sloppy, with hollow sound recording and a hopelessly muddled script, the film really doesn't cut the mustard on a technical level. The performances are a little better; certainly Mason and Doleman manage to work reasonably well with their underwritten roles and Wendy Hughes is agreeably feisty as the insurance investigator (sadly, she is killed off far too soon). Unfortunately Skerritt's lead seems a bit of a morose bore the usually-very-watchable actor can do little to enliven this mumbling deadweight of a hero. Not one of his finest hours. The fire sequences are easily the most interesting moments in the movie, but it's a long and tedious wait between the opening bush-fire and the climactic inferno. Is it worth staying the course? Well, unless you're a Tom Skerritt/James Mason completist or a collector of bad movies there really is no genuine justification for sticking this one out it's simply not very good and that, ultimately, is all that counts in the final analysis.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I made a vow to myself when I started doing these reviews that I would
watch every film from start to finish no matter how bad it might be.
Over time however, I've managed to allow myself some latitude without
actually going back on my word. The secret lies in the fast forward
button, which was used rather liberally here while watching this flick.
It all starts with the dialog. Presumably this was in English because I could understand a line every now and then, but overall the poor sound quality had me going 'huh?' time and time again. If this were a silent picture without title cards, I would have figured out there was some kind of insurance scam going on here with Tom Skerritt's construction project going up in flames more than once. Notable by his presence was veteran character actor James Mason as some kind of insurance investigator, but I don't know if he figured things out by the time it was all over.
Adding to the confusion was the rather random appearance of characters throughout the story who seemed to come and go at will, sometimes never to be heard from again. Scenes also seemed to jump randomly as well, and did I see a train full of passengers actually ride directly into a fire? I swear I was awake when that happened.
Topping things off, I saw this flick under the title "A Dangerous Summer", even though the events of the story occurred the week before Christmas. OK, OK, this was Australia and I get it about the reversal of seasons, but for American audiences, couldn't they have re-named it "A Dangerous Winter"? Never mind, no snow. This picture was hopeless right from the get go.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***SPOILER ALERT*** Disjointed and confusing arson drama that has to do
with a sinister plan to burn down a major vacation resort before New
Years Day. Being insured for ten million dollars the man behind Valley
View Estates in the Blue Mountains in Australia Julian Fane, Guy
Doleman,is determined to bring his own project down in flames in order
to collect. This has to happen by January 1, two weeks hence, before
the insurance policy on the project runs out.
With his mind totally on his work builder and architect Howard Anderson, Tom Skerritt, has no idea that his boss, Julian Fane, is planning to burn down the resort he's building and possibly set him up as the fall guy. Anderson gets a bit suspicious when insurance investigator Sophie McCann,Wendy Hughes, informs him on some very fishy goings on between Fane and the insurance company Proud Alliance. It turns out that Proud Allience is actually owned, or 60% of it, by Fane himself! This explains whey Fane is having all these arson fires happen in order to collect the ten million dollars of insurance which is at least twice as much as the entire Valley View Estates is worth!
We later have Sophie McCann murdered, in a faked swimming accident, to keep her from finding out whats happening with the suspicious fries around and in Valley View Estates. It's when Lloyd's of London, who's underwriting Proud Alliance, insurance investigator George Engles, James Mason, shows up that Fane takes a powder leaving his ace arsonist on his own and out of control to blow Fane's entire plan.
Meanwhile Anderson has gotten wise to both Fane and Engles who unlike Fane wants the Valley View Estates to go under for reasons which are never made quite clear, just watch the last few seconds of the film to realize that, by it's writer and director. The arsonist is exposed as he's about to do in his girlfriend with Anderson coming to her rescue. We then have this wild chase scene with the arsonist getting lost in the Valley View construction site only to have it set on fire, with the help of Howard Anderson, where he ends up burning to a crisps by the time the fire department came to hose him down.
The sudden and unexplained ending never made clear to just what happened to the Big Cheese in this whole scheme of things the sinister and evil minded Julian Fane. It's as if Fane got away Scot-free and only his unstable and deranged henchman, the arsonist, who was only the instrument of Fane's crimes ended up as the only person who payed from them.
This flick is worse than awful! It took a good story plot and turned it into schizophrenic cinema. The photography is EXTREMELY amateurish . . . looks like a 5th graders home movie project filmed with malfunctioning 8mm kiddie cameras . . . the editing appears to have been done by somebody having psychotic flashbacks (while on drugs and booze), with scenes cut short, followed by other, unrelated scenes, then chopped segments of scenes pasted in . . . totally unnecessary and gratuitous nudity . . . missing scenes . . . daytime scenes inexplicably turning into night-time scenes, then suddenly back to daytime . . . obviously no continuity. Tom Skerritt, Wendy Hughes and James Mason's good acting skills are wasted, as are the talents of the "key" supporting cast - (forget the villain and the Anderson women - very amateurish acting). This movie is a good candidate for a remake, even with Skerritt and Hughes . . . just have it professionally done this time.
Yet again not quite bad enough to make it enjoyable. In fact this one is
just boring. It's reasonably well made, even though the script is bad, the
effects are OK and the acting average. (Apart from James Mason who is
great, but in this one underused)
I suppose it is hard to write anything about this film because it didn't evoke any reaction in me what so ever.
Dull, dull, dull, dull, dull.
A man is builing a hotel with a partner. He finds out the hotel is over-insured. Things just get worse. This film has a huge mumber of scenes. They must have been put together in someones' sleep. It jumps around from place to place. It does not stay focused on anything for very long. The ending starts on christmas morning with a hotel fire. It then cuts to a night scene of that fire and then cuts back to day time. The DVD sound track is horrible. It takes a fair plot and turns into the worst film I have scene in a long time.
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