Monday, June 27, 2011

I Never Miss A Good Yvette Mimieux Movie - Dark Of The Sun (1968)

Set in the troubled nation of the Congo, this heist/rescue drama stars Rod Taylor and Jim Brown as mercenaries hired by it's president to rescue trapped diamond miners. Of course there is more to this story than just that but that is the premise the movie begins with.

Soon enough we learn there is 50 million dollars in diamonds that also have to be retrieved and there are only three days in which to complete the mission. At that time the European bankers shut the piggy bank for the President and his government collapses.

Taylor is to be paid 50,000 dollars if he succeeds. Seems like a bad deal when all he needs to do is cross the border with the diamonds when he gets them. He can cash them in anywhere in the world for a fortune. Who ever heard of a mercenary with ethics? One tenth the value of the prize while assuming all the risk sounds fair.

There are some fun early scenes where Taylor recruits his 'team'. They are all, of course, quirky individuals. You have a Nazi, his all black platoon of soldiers, a patriot, an alcoholic doctor who hates Taylor, and assorted other helpless along the way.

This film was made in the the heyday of 'team mission movies' like the 'Dirty Dozen' and 'Kelly's Heroes' and is based on a novel by Wilbur Smith.

So with the team assembled, they begin their cross country journey on their simple boxcar, caboose and locomotive train. Things would have gone a lot smoother if everyone in the country didn't know they were after a fortune in diamonds. That 'only brings more snakes out from under the couches' (as my old Baba used to say) and they take the form of a lone dive bomber and a whole army of 'Simbas' the rebels in this war torn country bearing down on them.

Taylor is very good as Cuddy, the leader of the mercenary mission. He has ethics and a code of honor that runs counter to the attitude of other whites in the African nation. They are not dealing with the changes in their society very well and are not ready to be ruled by their former servants. Curry believes there can be another way.

Jim Brown is also excellent as he thoughtfully articulates the struggle of the African people against their colonial oppressors - all in an attempt to get Taylor to eat his soup. Now THAT is a first officer.

'I came down out of the trees by invitation. And I'll kill anybody who tries to send me but up again. Russian, Chinese, English, Belgian, or United States - you take your pick.'

I should also mention that the poster is true and the Nazi Officer does threaten Taylor with a chain saw so for once there is truth in advertising.

I love this theme for an adventure film and I was impressed with the way this team of hired guns negotiated each and every obstacle put in front of them. It can also be gruesomely truthful about the violence of the times.

7/10 - 'An adventure movie set in the Congo during the civil wars of the 1960s. that cares about the ethics and evils of a colonialism in it's death throws.


Belle said...

When I was a girl, I wanted to look just like Yvette Mimieux. The first time I saw her was in a Dr. Kildare TV show where she played a surfer-girl. Sounds like a pretty good movie.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I never saw this one, although I enjoyed those team mission movies at the time. I love anything with a team of misfits who become heroes.