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This film stayed on the shelf for 3 years before it was finally released. In spite of a strong premise from Mario Puzo and a fine supporting performance from Sir Rex Harrison,this film just merely exists.In fact if it were not for Rex Harrison's appearance in the film as a corrupt German Officer cum politician,I would have quickly forgotten this picture entirely.This was Harrison's last film before returning to the stage for the remainder of his life.The remaining cast merely goes through the motions.
I remember seeing the ad for this film in Variety back in the early 80's. A strong cast--Rex Harrison, Rod Taylor, Edward Albert, Raf Vallone--and directed by the legendary Matt Cimber. The end result is a curious creation--a revenge melodrama with higher aspirations, a misfire that is still interesting to watch. Edward Albert's new bride and her family and brutally killed by Nazis in the waning days of World War II, and Albert swears to track the six men (four Germans, a Hungarian, and a Sicilian) responsible, which he does after the war is over, with the assistance of a prostitute who helps him. Albert was shot and left for dead by the Nazis, and he still has bullet fragments in his brain which cause him serious problems. The "track down the killers" revenge plot has been used in countless westerns and action films, and it's not done in any overly original way here (although the way he kills the car mechanics is novel, like something out of a Republic serial). Also, Albert seems to get access to the people he needs to kill quite easily (yes, Rod Taylor's character may be helping him get to them, but still more tension needs to be created for each buildup). One wonders if the film had a troubled production history as there is a credit for "additional scenes directed by...", which credits Joe Tornatore (director of Grotesque, with Tab Hunter), and also both Robert O. Ragland and Ennio Morricone scored different parts of the film. Rex Harrison was a strange choice for the Nazi officer who later is in line to become post-war chancellor of Germany. Did the producers want a Nazi with a British accent? And Rod Taylor's Australian accent is a bit off-putting for an American intelligence officer (I guess his character emigrated to the US from Oz). Raf Vallone isn't given much to do, but does it with his usual class. Edward Albert's character is obsessed, obviously, but also somewhat out-of-it due to his head injury. The latter aspect could have been dealt with more consistently throughout the film, but is basically dropped after the first two-thirds. Mr. Albert is also credited as an assistant (or associate, I forget) producer of the film. There are some attractive European locations used in the film, and it's always a pleasure to watch people of the caliber of Harrison and Taylor and Vallone at work (Mr. Albert has always been much under-rated too, in my opinion). The sleaze elements often expected in a Matt Cimber project are not in evidence here--except for a few seconds of bare breast, this could have easily gotten a PG rating. Still, unless you are a devoted fan of director Cimber, or of one of the stars, or of Mario Puzo, upon whose story the film was based, it's not worth tracking down an old VHS copy of this obscure film. Perhaps it will someday appear as a budget-bin DVD--if so, it's probably worth under five dollars to watch on a rainy day. I paid two dollars for my used video, and feel I got my money's worth.-
Michael Rogan sets out for revenge against six men who interrogated him post WW2, Germany. Where also his pregnant wife was captured, tortured and murdered when he wouldn't comply in giving them the information they wanted. A creaky, so-so revenge drama that is quite laboured on every front. For these revenge stories to come off, there needs to be some sort of emotional attachment or pull, but the material along with Edward Albert Jr's limited performance fail to do so. So in the end there's really no impact to it all. Watching him calculate and then dispatching these men (led by Rex Harrison) was rather dry and uneventful. While durable in its craftmanship and scope, this didn't stop the execution coming off rather plain in its sense of action. The basic formula is there, but a real lack of excitement and suspense shows it up with a slowly progressive script and so does some disjointed editing. For most part it's terribly dreary and seedy. The European location work is well captured though, giving it some colour and Rod Taylor along with Rex Harrison gives it a bit of class and edge.
"A Time to Die" was based on a story by Mario Puzo. I haven't read the original story, but it has to be a lot better than this cinematic version. The revenge for a war crime premise, while somewhat familiar, had promise, but the execution is mostly anything but competent. One big problem with the movie is the central character played by Edward Albert Jr. We learn next to nothing about him, and we never really get to see what is going on in his head. The biggest problem with the movie, however, is that its tone is almost completely flat. It's a boringly told story, finding it hard to find excitement even in the scenes where the hero gets to execute some revenge. The only things that save the movie from reaching the level of total ineptness are a couple of okay action sequences and some welcome scenes of nudity. Though even with this stuff, the movie still remains quite hard to sit through.
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