Remake of "To Have and Have Not" based on Hemingway short story. Plot reset to early days of Cuban revolution. A charter boat skipper gets entangled in gunrunning scheme to get money to pay off debts. Sort of a sea-going film noir with bad girl, smarmy villain, and the "innocent" drawn into wrong side of law by circumstances.Written by
Although this is a well-made film, you have to wonder why it was thought "The Breaking Point" could be bettered. However it gave Audie Murphy an opportunity to expand his range in a non-Western role.
Audie plays Sam Martin who runs a charter boat out of the Florida Keys. It's the only film version that is set in the location of Hemingway's novel. Sam's business is in trouble, and he undertakes some illegal trips to Cuba running guns for Hannigan, an affable, but ruthless businessman played by Eddie Albert - proving that a charming villain is always more effective than a straight-out evil one.
Sam is married and resists the not overly strenuous advances of Hannigan's mistress Eva (Gita Hall). Gita was underutilised here, she looked blonde, cool and interesting; a missed opportunity really, it was this relationship that created much of the tension in "The Breaking Point".
Eventually it ends with bullet holes in much of the boat and most of the protagonists.
I still find Audie Murphy a fascinating screen presence. Film allowed us to stare eyeball to eyeball into the face that was about the last thing 250 of his country's enemies ever saw. Occasionally we see interviews with war heroes, but the movies gave us an intimate acquaintance with this one.
He was a complex guy and not universally liked, some thought him dangerous; he probably was. I once read "No Name on the Bullet", Don Graham's biography of Audie Murphy. Graham interviewed many people who knew him throughout his life and shed light on some of his military exploits beyond what was depicted in "To Hell and Back". Graham tells how Audie often went on solo missions to hunt down German snipers. It took nerve and skill, forged as a youth in the Depression when he hunted food for his family - one bullet, one kill.
In "The Gun Runners", Audie is tightly controlled showing little emotion. He didn't change much from film to film, but maybe his movies reflected that iron self-control that enabled a man to stand on a burning tank destroyer firing a machine gun for an hour, holding off scores of the enemy.
But that was all a long time ago and possibly a lot of people aren't interested in the stars in that way, simply demanding that the drama hold their attention. I would say "The Gun Runners" does that pretty well. I like the ending, which leaves us with a touch of doubt. It's a very watchable film on a number of levels.
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