I first saw this film coming up on WETA, a US PBS station in the mid '80's and couldn't wait as the book had been my absolute favourite from the early '70's. I was not disappointed.
Filmed entirely on location in Iceland, this BBC Scotland production, released January 1979, is a first class action adventure.
Former British agent Alan Stewart is blackmailed by his former boss Slade into delivering a package. It seems a simple messenger boy's job but things soon take a dramatic turn, and Stewart finds himself being chased across the ruggedly beautiful volcanic landscape, pursued by his nemesis, Kennikin (character actor Vladek Sheybal).
Excellent characterisation and performance by versatile and under-rated actor Stuart Wilson (1994 DEATH AND THE MAIDEN, several PRIME SUSPECTS and the 1998 MASK OF ZORRO ) as Alan Stewart, as well as 3 former U.F.O. series cast members (Sewell/Bishop/Sheybal) this is a taut and well told drama. Wilson's hairstyle and '70's tight flares are a bit dated, but Icelandic actress Heida Steindorrsdottir is flawless as Stewart's girlfriend, in what appears to be her only acting role to date.
There is strangely no concession to subtitling for the Russian and Icelandic dialogue nor for the written signs and one revealing newspaper article but these are minimal. The actors also seem to be doing most of their own stunts.
Based on the novel by Desmond Bagley, RUNNING BLIND has proved by far the truest adaptation of many of Bagley's stories. Five have been done - 3 are rubbish and the 4th, MACKINTOSH MAN, is a muddled Hollywood adaptation of THE FREEDOM TRAP which should have been far better than it was, given the likes of Paul Newman/James Mason, and John Huston directing. Filmed earlier (1973) MACKINTOSH MAN is incidentally the effective sequel to the story of Slade from RUNNING BLIND, where Sewell replaces veteran actor Ian Bannen as Slade.
Overall vote: 9 out of 10. This is a great adventure story and should be released on VHS/DVD. Please, BBC ??
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