Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Essential Cinema - 6

Ice Station Zebra

Rock Hudson
Ernest Borgnine
Patrick McGoohan
Jim Brown
Tony Bill
Lloyd Nolan

John Sturges

Harry Julian Fink

Daniel L. Fapp

Cold war adversaries against nature and each other. There is no quick way to the top of the world to recover lost secrets. This film documents a race between the superpowers, with dirty tricks and espionage thrown in for good measure. Adventure on a grand scale to the ends of the earth.

Political chess, with very high stakes. Technological prowess will only get you so far. In the end you have to see which opponent blinks first. This whole film has an underlying tone of deceit and secrecy. Up until the end of the film, you aren't sure who is on which side and who you can trust.

This is a man's film.....there are no women on screen. The overall tone of the picture is one of high adventure, pitting man against not only the elements, but also against his enemies and his allies. The excellent soundtrack by Michael Legrand evokes far away travel and sweeping scale. The film has exceptional special effects for its day. The opening credits evoke the cool, calculating tension of superpower espionage done at the start of the electronic age. This is James Bond without all the winks, nods and jokes....this is serious stuff. There are no fancy gadgets or exploding pens...we use nuclear submarines and jet fighters to get the job done here.

As for cons in this film, it is lengthy (over 2 hours), but I honestly can't see where you would cut anything out. Each scene moves the picture along at a good pace. The plot can get a little complex unless you pay attention. There is little to interest women in the film, unless you want to see what men fantasize about (besides sex). There are a few slip-ups regarding continuity, but unless you are watching very closely, you won't notice them. Another good example of the types of film that Hollywood isn't very good at making anymore. I highly recommend it.