(director/writer: Daniel Bourla; screenwriter: story by Avraham Heffner; cinematographer: Jerry Kalogeratos; editor: Angelo Ross; cast: Robert Strauss (Noah), Geoffrey Holder (Friday, voice), Sally Kirkland (Friday-Anne, voice), Jim Blackmore (Trumpet, voice), (Jack Schneider, Sgt. Kowalski voice), Richard Thomkins (College Student, voice), David Bourla (Little Boy, voice; Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Louis De Rochemont III; Pathfinder Home Entertainment; 1975)
“For all its oddity and its haunting effect on our sensibilities, The Noah delivers a conventional anti-war message.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An oddball little known lost sci-fi classic made in 1968 but released in 1975 to a limited theater audience. It’s directed by Daniel Bourla and written by him from a story by Avraham Heffner. The black and white film vanished in 1975 until surfacing in the mid-1990s on a local New York educational channel and was subsequently seen only through bootlegged copies. Pathfinder Home Entertainment recently remastered it from a newly discovered original 35mm film negative for DVD release.
It opens with a quote from Genesis 6 about Noah being the sole survivor of the flood. Then it pictures a lone soldier who calls himself Noah (Robert Strauss, TV, film and stage actor, noted for his Oscar-nominated performance in Billy Wilder’s Stalag 17, who died shortly after the film’s release) getting off a raft on an undisclosed tropical island and setting up living quarters on a shack located on the beach. The place seems to have been used before as a Red Chinese military base. In a one-man soliloquy by Noah we start piecing together what happened and who he is, as he maintains his strict army routine. It turns out Noah is a career soldier, a private about one month short of retiring, who joined during WW II and is the sole survivor on our planet after a nuclear holocaust from WW III. The isolation gets to him and he starts acting bizarre, hearing voices from the past. For a companion, Noah comes up with an imaginary character he names Friday (voiced by Geoffrey Holder). He then creates a companion for Friday named Friday-Anne (voiced by Sally Kirkland), and finally his deranged mind creates an entire illusionary civilization.
For all its oddity and its haunting effect on our sensibilities, The Noah delivers a conventional anti-war message. It tells how a war of nukes will lead to a wasteland and the destruction of humanity, and that survival of such a holocaust might leave us only as buggy as the film’s irrational protagonist. It’s most effective in showing our main man slowly going nuts and unable to handle his loneliness and in denial about the current crisis, but there’s just not much to its political underpinnings for us to put our finger on what makes this film significant (other than its odd look). Its ambitious thematic aims are only sketchily drawn through radio speeches from a variety of political figures, actual World War II radio broadcasts and voices that remain inside Noah’s head that include the voices of Geoffrey Holder and Sally Kirkland. I found this bleak film to be an unpleasant watch, and that soon after the mysteries of the first part were cleared up it never kicked in with enough excitement to keep me tuned in further.
REVIEWED ON 1/17/2007 GRADE: C+