Thursday, November 24, 2005

In Harms Way

A Movie Review

Like the painter Picasso, director Otto Preminger went through many periods. One of the most productive of which was the era of controversial epochs he made during the 1960's. The best of these films were not afraid to take on strong subject matter and powerful institutions, and succeeded in bringing there messages to the public in large part because they were dressed in Hollywood spectical. Exodus examiend the establishment of the state of Israel, Adivse and Consent the U.S. Senate, and The Cardinal The Roman Catholic Church. In Harms Way Premingers 1965 opus of a World War II film, is not as successful as any the movies mentioned previously.

I don't know what it is exactly that the movie lacked, but when stacked up against the other films I just mentioned (with the possible exception of Exodus which I know only by reputation) the picture mostly falls flat. Where it does succeed however is in its incredible cast featuring then stars John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Patrica Neal, Dana Andrews, Franchot Tone, Priminger discovery Tom Tryon and the directors frequent supporting player Burgess Meredith. The movie also boasts an impressive group of up & comers including George Kennedy, Carroll O'Conner and a young Larry Hagman.

Despite all this talented cast the film is slow going and surprisingly conventional. In fact the most visually intersting part of the flick comes in the end credits sequence were a wild sea storm slowly transforms into a montage of explosions and battle culminating in several mushroom clouds. This imagery coming during the relatively early stages of massive American military commitment in Vietnam speaks potential volumes. It is only a pity that the usually incisive Otto chose to be overly subtle throughout the rest of the movie.


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