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The Power (1968)
Not too bad, but could have been great
George Pal's/Byron Haskin's version of "The Power" (based on the good novel by Frank Robinson, not the baseball player) is actually pretty entertaining and thrilling despite the relatively poor production values - quite a bit of 1960s cheesiness - but still the cast of stalwarts gives it all and it is probably the best George Pal film after 1960's "The Time Machine." Acting kudos go to Michael Rennie, Aldo Ray (!!!) and even, who would have thought it, star George Hamilton. This is one of those films whose concept far exceeds its execution but I still feel somewhat generous as I remembered it fondly from my youth and seeing it about 30 years later found out that it held up pretty well.
And a great score by Miklos Rozsa too.
Farewell to the King (1989)
Excellent but Flawed
"Farewell to the King" is a very well made, acted and photographed film version of Schoendoeffer's novel. The theatrical version seems too short for the epic scope of the story. Don't know if it was heavily edited or whether the production's grasp exceeded their financial means but there is something missing here. This is a film that could have been Milius's great masterpiece (although Big Wednesday is a pretty great film). It has something important and striking to say about war and about the nature of the bond between Western adventurers and "savage" tribal people applicable to the American misadventure in Vietnam and to earlier periods such as Lawrence of Arabia during World War One. It doesn't quite succeed. Still this 1989 war film, unfairly dismissed at the time as a blond version of Rambo, has some of Milius' best work as a filmmaker. This is a film ripe for re-evaluation in a deluxe edition DVD.
Omar Khayyam (1957)
Great story, average movie
"Omar Khayyam" is in many ways a typical 50s Hollywood oriental sword and sandal epic but with a few twists and tremendous (unmet) potential. The actual story of three friends (Hassan, Omar and Nizam) goes back hundreds of years and is pretty engaging. The historical personalities of Omar and Hassan al-Sabbah are quite interesting characters. There is potentially a great film here.
The actual production is not great but it has some nice things: Michael Rennie gives a great performance as Hassani. It is one of his best things, right up there with the alien in "The Day the Earth Stood Still." It also has Raymond Massey and the great Abraham Sofaer, a distinctive character actor, as Tutush, the Sultan's brother. It has a fine score by Victor Young and some neat matte paintings of Alamut. Some of the lines are great: "I know of some other heads that should be sealed with wax and honey." But in the end it is too formulaic of a Hollywood spectacular. Cornel Wilde is too stolid. Such a rich historical backdrop and fascinating subject matter is worthy of a better film.