(director/writer: Richard Brooks; screenwriter: novel by Joseph Conrad; cinematographer: Freddie Young; editor: Alan Osbiston; music: Bronislau Kaper; cast: Peter O’Toole (Lord Jim), James Mason (Gentleman Brown), Curd Jurgens (Cornelius), Eli Wallach (The General), Jack Hawkins (Marlow), Paul Lukas (Stein), Daliah Lavi (Native Girl), Akim Tamiroff (Schomberg, saloon keeper), Jack MacGowran (Patna Engineer), Ichiza Itami (Waris); Runtime: 154; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Richard Brooks; Columbia Pictures; 1965)
“At best, it only resembles Conrad’s 1900 novel.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Richard Brooks (“Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”/”Elmer Gantry”/”In Cold Blood”) directs a dumbed down version of Joseph Conrad’s novel that skips a lot of the philosophizing in favor of Hollywood action and melodrama.At best, it only resembles Conrad’s 1900 novel. It’s a remake of the 1925 film byVictor Fleming. It follows the adventures of a character named Lord Jim (Peter O’Toole), a Merchant Marine officer, who on the dilapidated tub Patna commits a cowardly act (abandons the passengers during a storm and is discharged). To redeem his good name, for his own benefit, after wandering the Far East, the young Jim goes on a dangerous mission by taking a shipment of explosives to a remote island in the Far East called Patusan. In the jungle, Jim encounters a ruthless warlord called the General (Eli Wallach) oppressing the natives and he leads a revolution to overthrow the dictator. Successful, the neurotic, self-tortured Jim settles down with the sexy native (Daliah Lavi), and is worshiped by the natives as Lord Jim. After getting things stable, the notorious river pirate, Gentleman Brown (James Mason), threatens to once again bring chaos to the region by robbing its valuable jewels.
The enigmatic, self-reflective anti-hero character O’Toole plays is a laconic, guilt-ridden depressed egomaniac living out a fanciful adventure in an exotic part of the world, who is looking for the truth about himself and is willing to pay any price to find it (that includes being a martyr).
It’s a beautifully filmed adventure story, shot in Cambodia, Singapore and Hong Kong, but is overlong and mostly inert, plodding and tedious except for a few exciting moments. It bombed in the box office.
REVIEWED ON 9/7/2010 GRADE: C+ https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/