Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Weird-movie report

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I have recently seen a couple of weird movies and I thought I should report.

The Final Countdown (1980) stars Kirk Douglas, James Farentino, Katharine Ross, and Martin Sheen in a sci-fi Navy drama. The idea is that a modern (1980) aircraft carrier encounters a time-storm and finds itself in the vicinity of Pearl Harbor on December 6, 1941. Not a very good movie, I fear, since the writers avoided all the interesting stuff—namely, a 1980 carrier attacking a 1941 battle fleet. But the weird part is that it’s so clearly a recruiting film for the Navy—and for carrier service in particular—that I looked to see whether the US Navy bankrolled the film and had creative input. Almost every aspect of life on a carrier—and all the tricks it can do—are on display, and the sailors are on their toes giving it their all, doing their best job. Obviously, the carrier was able to incorporate a lot of training exercises into the filming, but the overall fragrance is of recruitment. It’s entertaining for that.

Wrong is Right (1982) stars Sean Connery, and if you watch the film you understand why this title doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of Connery’s oeuvre. The film is based on the novel The Better Angels, by Charles McCarry, and is one of the novels in the Paul Christopher series. The movie has many strikes against it. First is simply the complexity of the plot: a lot was left out, but even with what is left the movie is squeezed with various groups and actors going this way and that—confusing. Even worse is that the movie is played as a heavy-handed satire.

As I watched, though, I figured out why: the plot is preposterous and the various coincidences and shenanigans make little sense—but in reading the novel, this didn’t strike me because I was charmed by the writing. Something in McCarry’s style and tone make the plot absorbing, and I felt I was getting somehow inside the complex events and watching from a privileged position. But in making a movie, you don’t have the author’s voice and descriptions (and charm): you have to show what happens, and once you simply see it happening, you realize that it’s ridiculous. So heavy-handed satire is probably the best you can do in a movie. Once the person who was a reader of the author’s account becomes an eye-witness, as it were, to the actual (fictional) happenings, then the framework is starkly revealed.

Others who participated in this thing were Katharine Ross, Henry Silva, Leslie Nielsen, Robert Conrad, John Saxon, Dean Stockwell, and, in a bit part, Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Written by Leisureguy

4 April 2009 at 9:31 am

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