Sunday, July 13, 2008

Run for the Sun (1956)

Director: Roy Boulting

Starring: Richard Widmark, Trevor Howard, Jane Greer

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: A raging animal of a man...more savage than any jungle killer!

Plot: Mike (Widmark), a Hemingway-esque adventure novelist, is spending his days in a self-imposed exile somewhere in Central America. A reporter for Sight Magazine, Katie (Greer), has tracked him down in the hope of getting the biggest scoop of her career. Mike falls for Katie. On a flight to Mexico City, their plane crashes near a remote hideaway of Nazi war criminals in hiding. The Nazis want to stay hidden and plan to dispose of their new guests.

My Rating: 7/10

Would I watch it again? Sure, but I'll skim past the yawn-inducing first third and get to the jungle bits.

This is a mixed bag. The first half hour is a sappy love story between Mike and Katie, yawn, but the final hour is fantastic. I'm all for a good love story but I was on board for an adventure flick and so far there's no adventure unless you consider the one Mike has as he tries to get into Katie's jungle bush. He offers to fly her himself to Mexico City so she can catch a flight back to the States. On the way, a magnetic case in her purse, next to the compass, throws them off course and their plane crashes when they run out of fuel.

"No time for love, Doctor Jones!"

The plane crash was pretty intense with the plane careening straight into the camera and the score's strings' high-pitched tremolos, then waiting a few seconds, sight-unseen, to see if they made it OK. There's no doubt they do because they're the stars but you know what I mean. This happens 30 minutes into the picture. NOW it's ON! Well, sorta.

They've crashed very near the hidden-in-the-jungle home of some ex-Nazis-in-hiding let by Browne (Howard) and they'd kinda like to stay hidden. The next 30 minutes is pretty intense as their new hosts are creepy, secretive, potentially violent and intelligent. There's a great, disturbing dinner scene with all of the characters when Mike finally realizes that he's heard Browne's voice before and it was on a Nazi radio station. Browne was a traitor to his country (England) and hosted a well-known radio show for Nazi propaganda. Mike and Katie are in danger and start to figure a way out which is going to be difficult since they are many miles deep inside an unforgiving jungle. This third of the film does a great job of building tension and a very real sense of danger. Then they escape.

Now it's this final 30 that suddenly turns this film into a top-notch action chase movie. Mike, looking A LOT like Indiana Jones but more than twenty years prior, cuts his way through the jungle with the thick undergrowth and Katie slowing him down. It won't be long before the Nazis are on their trail. My chest was thumping for the last third of the picture. I figured that they would escape but it didn't matter. The director, Boulting, did a great job with the pacing and tension.

In one cool and unexpected scene, Mike is being chased by one of the Nazi's dogs. He shoots an arrow at it, narrowly missing the dog which then leaps onto Mike and attacks him. Mike struggles and is barely able to reach an arrow lying nearby, taking that arrow and stabbing the shit out of the dog. SWEET!!! This is not what I expected from a film more than 50 years old. Very nice indeed.

Our heroes are eventually chased full circle back to the compound where all but one of the Nazi bad guys are disposed of. There's one left and stands in their way of fleeing in a plane. Mike and Katie make it to the plane leaving the Nazi in front of them firing a rifle. Indiana Jones influence #2. The fly toward him killing his ass with the propeller blade! AWESOME!!!

This film would get an 9 if it weren't for the off-putting, boring first half hour but once you get past that it's a strong, solid suspense/thriller and then balls-to-the-wall action jungle chase. It's not out on DVD but I was able to burn a widescreen copy for myself off of Turner Classic Movies a couple of years ago. Look for it. It's a great way to spend an hour and a half on a lazy weekend.

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