15 December 2004 | rsoonsa
Far From Satisfactory On Any Level
The Groan Factor will be prominent in the minds and gullets of most viewers who endure sitting through this South African made affair, set in 1939 immediately prior to the onset of World War II, a story so silly that the apparently random actions of wild animals seen during travelogue sections seem rife with logic when compared with those of characters put in place by director/screenwriter Percival Rubens. An American couple, James Kingstreet (John Saxon) and his wife (Tippi Hedren) make their home and manage a wildlife preserve located between Italian-governed Abyssinia and British Kenya as war approaches, a sharp change for Kingstreet from his previous vocations of big game hunter and Spanish Civil War partisan (as seen by flashback) and each of the mentioned contending nations has deployed a small armed force to take possession of the preserve's water holes in order to assume an advantageous strategic position, in spite of the district's neutrality and importance to fauna and to a native village, overriding objections from the sanctuary's American overseer. Kingstreet's sole assistant is a native ( who continually addresses him as "bwana") and he has a prickly relationship with his one-eyed brother (Brian O'Shaughnessy) who lost his orb by a childhood accident at the hand of Jim, yet still locally hunts large game, but Kingstreet and his spouse will not accommodate either the English or Italians threatening their spread, thereby particularly antagonizing the commanding major of the latter group, played well by Rossano Brazzi, especially when the reformed hunter assaults the Fascisti with a homemade bomb dropped from his bi-plane, co-piloted by his wife. With neither his script nor direction does Rubens give apparent thought to such elements as avoidance of predictability, attention to details, and continuity, e.g., 1939 military personnel sporting long sideburns and hair, and even with meager forces opposing him, it is unreasonable to expect that the intrepid American might successfully oppose two armies and the film sags into foolishness, with the rushed ending manifest more of budgetary restraint than any presence of directorial design.