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Written by / 4/15/2013 / 2 Comments / , , , ,

SHAW AND MCDOWELL ARE 'FIGURES IN A LANDSCAPE'

year: 1970 cast: Robert Shaw, Malcolm McDowell rating: ****
In a brief encounter with Malcolm McDowell at an autograph show, upon a friend mentioning this particular 1970 film, Malcolm rolled his eyes in amazement (that such an obscure cinematic curio would be remembered?) and spoke bluntly of his working stint with Robert Shaw – how it was a grueling four month shoot since the very unpredictable actor had a penchant for the bottle… Then McDowell finished with: “But I loved him.” Well this sort of love/hate relationship exists between Shaw’s coldblooded, experienced MacConnachie and McDowell’s na├»ve yet wily young Ansell… two escaped convicts on the run in an unnamed country. The first thirty minutes have both characters with hands tied behind their backs as they trudge up and down craggy mountainsides like desperate billygoats while a helicopter (described by MacConnachie as “the black skeleton”) soars above: playing a hectic game of cat and mice.
Malcolm McDowell facing Robert Shaw
DVD Artwork
Whether hiding behind rocks, entering stealthy into villages, tramping through soldier-saturated paddies or shooting up military compounds, the two “figures” always return to their match against the antagonist copter – more of a meddling crow than bird of prey.

The Arial shots are as gorgeous as the picturesque landscape; the edgy violin score is reminiscent of future suspense films THE FRENCH CONNECTION or THE EXORCIST; and the performances by both (now iconic) cult favorites are topnotch: Shaw with a cunning edge while McDowell slowly loses his sanity.

The actors really stand out during sporadic pockets of downtime; the veteran either goading the youngster into becoming more vicious or sharing sullen memories of his dead wife: All crafted neatly within the intense action sequences built around a taut climate of primal perseverance by two men who’ve become human animals to survive against a metallic one.
Malcolm McDowell and Robert Shaw
Robert Shaw with gun
Shaw Aims at the "black skeleton"
Repose before moving on
Is this freedom yet?
Robert Shaw's last stand
Available on a Korean DVD Online... Go Searching...
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2 comments:

  1. This looks pretty darn cool. The helicopter is actually BLUE THUNDER chasing Malcolm down. Just teasing. I need to get this movie. A Korean DVD? Jeez.

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