Selfish Chris Teller pressures his older brother, a retired climber, to accompany him on a treacherous Alpine climb to loot the bodies of plane crash victims.Selfish Chris Teller pressures his older brother, a retired climber, to accompany him on a treacherous Alpine climb to loot the bodies of plane crash victims.Selfish Chris Teller pressures his older brother, a retired climber, to accompany him on a treacherous Alpine climb to loot the bodies of plane crash victims.
A brightly colored movie with old school Spencer Tracy and new style Robert Wagner in a drama about getting something that doesn't belong to you. The scenery is stunning, clear, high altitude stuff, shot on location in the French Alps. Edward Dmytryk is a Hollywood steady with a good sense of drama, and the movie has good bones.
Loosely based on a true story (a 1950 crash of an Indian airplane), the catchy facts are dwarfed by the stereotypes of the two main characters, and by the general drama and landscapes. The plane wreck is high up in the mountains and a rescue party is waiting to go up in the morning. But then these two brothers (far enough apart in years to be father and son) go up first, the evening before. The acting is first rate all around, which keeps even the slow acts held together decently.
Overall, though, this is a plodding plot. Roughly a third of the time (yes) is pure mountain climbing, which can be fun for a minute but it follows the two men up and then down the mountain in great detail. All well done, yes, but what you really want is some intensity, a greater clash of two moralities, each representing a different generation.
The crash site is really quite believable (if a little concentrated in one spot--I think these high speed crashes get pretty scattered in truth). And the general idea works pretty well, not only the difference in motives of the two brothers but the ability of one brother to look the other way for the other. There is a surprise turn of events at the top, and then another on the way down, when the drama builds at last. And then there is a final little confessional speech that Tracy gives (like he does in many of his roles). He is meant to be the great self-sacrificing, humble man as "good example." It really is, as others write, overly sentimental and frankly unbelievable. And unnecessary, too. Even an unwillingness to talk about the events would have had the same moral effect without the townspeople basically winking in the final scenes.
Alas. Not a classic. If you like technical mountain climbing (with ropes) you might enjoy a lot of it. And some great scenery.
- Oct 21, 2011