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Shout at the Devil   

Review: written 2006

Gung-ho adventure in 70's mould

This is far from a classic, but fans of Lee Marvin will be well rewarded with a flamboyant performance, and fans of Roger Moore with.. well, a standard Roger Moore performance.

Story is based on Wilbur Smiths novel of the same name, and loosely based around real events, albeit with fictional characters. Roger Moore’s Englishman forms an unlikely alliance with Lee Marvin's alcoholic rogue, firstly in the poaching game, and latterly in the fight against the Germans, 1914 style, in Zanzibar. One of the oddest casting decisions is Ian Holm as a loyal mute native!

The story has some appeal for looking at a time and location seldom visited by the cinema, but is hampered by vacillating wildly in tone - what starts as a light hearted buddy movie becomes something more grim as the war against Fleisher the German sadistic local officer becomes revenge, and ultimately climaxes in the battle on the German battleship.

The directing by Peter Hunt, who directed On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, has its own style, but has dated - and even then does not settle on side of farce or thriller. It is best however when skulking around and mounting tension in the final scenes. It is somewhat of an irony to see how Hunt would have directed Moore in a Bond movie! Hunt also pulled along another Bond veteran, John Glenn, who directed the action scenes for Hunt as second unit director and fulfils that role again here. He rightly went on as a successful director of Bond movies in his own right. Also present from Bond movie lore is Maurice Binder, who famously designed the titles for Bond movies - he performs the same function here albeit in more workmanlike fashion.

If you are thinking of buying the DVD - beware - the version I watched is washed out in colour, and sound is of low quality. Bizarrely, the German speaking scenes which were originally in English, have been dubbed into German - but not subtitled in English! Since many key scenes are in German, this is a near fatal flaw.

Basically it is a gung-ho action movie with buddy movie elements, but is uneven in tone and lacking in clarity of vision, although illuminating an intriguing era in WW I history.

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