The war, in a series of metaphors from The Desperate Hours (dir. William Wyler) to The Passage (dir. J. Lee Thompson), therefore an excellent analysis on both scores.
The stammering bank robber, his antithetical brother whose first attempt at writing failed (his second is rejected out of hand), the hired man.
It gives rise to such things as Who’ll Stop the Rain? (dir. Karel Reisz) as well, and the parallel to Tirez sur le pianiste (dir. François Truffaut) is particularly lively, reaching as it does Nicholas Ray’s On Dangerous Ground.
M.E. of the New York Times, alive to no subtleties, thought Wilde “more like a bank executive than a bank robber.”
The Naked Prey
It’s a simple choice of life or death. The elephant hunter wants to trade in slaves, his lot is decided.
The safari manager he has hired wants to return to his own farm, and must face by outrunning them all the disasters precipitated by his employer’s choice.
Variety and Time observed this object lesson more or less perceptively. The screenplay was nominated, Wilde’s editing was noticed in Beach Red, which also shows the influence more or less obliquely of Walsh’s The Naked and the Dead.
Japs in American uniforms descend to the beach after a Marine amphibious landing has moved inland, thinking to attack from the rear.
That, unmentioned in the reviews, is the essence of the film, it determines all the rest.
So you get the fearful and loving flashbacks and anticipations, the state of mind in combat.
Wilde pays especial attention to gauging all these effects, the editing was nominated, his forced introduction of archive footage is heterogeneous and all the better for it, he has all the angles.
Topside this was filmed at Bonaire, underwater thousands of miles away in the Coral Sea. This bare calculation figures as the instrumental composition of the piece, which concludes with a vision of the sea seldom equaled.
A group of men fishing up sunken treasure are beset by pirates, after dealing with sharks. The men break free and head for an island, where they fend off their pursuers, and finally retake the boat. It’s as simple as that, elemental really.
The underwater cinematography works its way through the film, but the real work is mainly accomplished in the open sunlight on the afterdeck, broad and flat on the wide sea and blue sky, where the men sit in chairs between dives and are variously seen by the camera in subtly ironic angles (exacerbated by the pirates’ arrival) to build a convincing picture of unruffled beauty (suffused with southern light), dramatically annoyed by senseless savagery, directed with a certain amount of seeming idleness and fortuitous editing (accounting for its poor critical reception). It’s slowly entrancing, however, until the island sequence reveals its heading.
The men have overpowered a sufficient number of the pirates to commandeer a small boat or raft and make their escape. By and by, they approach the island, and Wilde has a POV shot of the rocky shore and crashing surf which is tellingly effective. They’re shot at from the boat, struggle ashore, and flee among the well-filmed flora and crags (an echo of The Naked Prey).
What matters, finally, is the view of the beach after all this storm and stress, the ocean is perceived in its physicality as an element in its wholeness, almost a character, and this, along with the general disposition of Antillean luminosity, is what justifies the artistic gamble of the film, even in the face of almost total rejection and Ebert’s japery.
The cast includes Yaphet Kotto and Wilde himself, with Cliff Osmond as the pirate leader, Lobo. Robert O. Ragland’s score is not fooled for a moment, but takes its inspiration from the film itself and is repaid continually.