Monday, June 29

Devil's Crude (1971)

Directed by Tommaso Dazzi
85 Minutes / Trans World Entertainment / Cropped from 1.85:1 to full screen

A sun baked, scruffy, and thickly bearded Franco Nero stars as Nick, a salt-of-the-Earth sailor with a pet pelican whose sailboat is destroyed by a far off course oil tanker. After marching into the oil company's headquarters demanding compensation and being chased throughout the building, Nick befriends Paco, the young heir to the corporation. Nick and Paco run into each other repeatedly and eventually Nick saves the boy from electrocution from a sabotaged wading pool. Upon learning about threats on Paco's life for his inherited fortune, Nick takes an offer to become his guardian in exchange for payment on his boat. It becomes clear these threats are coming from within the boy's family when he's kidnapped and with the help of Paco's grandfather (Francisco Rabal) Nick sets off to save his young friend from an evading tanker.

This is simply a steady family-friendly adventure, but that by no means is condemnation for what the film sets out to do. There's very little action with the height being quick fist fights. Not even a single gunshot is fired or profanity uttered. The reason to watch is Nero, who brings a rugged warmth to the role creating a character every boy would love to tag along with on an adventure. The relationship between Nick and Paco never seems "weird" and as the characters interact Nick becomes a father figure the boy never had. Francisco Rabal is in old coot mode getting all the good quips. What's also interesting is that the film isn't in the mold of any popular American trends and doesn't resort to exploitative aspects to lure an audience. A wholesome and good spirited waste of ninety minutes with sunny locales that is one of the few back-in-the-day Italian genre efforts you can enjoy with a young child without the fear of a sudden boob shot or explosion of gore.

On a sidenote, even though the IMDB doesn't link the two, this appears to be a made-for-Italian-TV sequel or remake.


VHS Picture: 8/10 (considering the film and tape's ages, the PQ is great)
VHS Sound: 7/10
...do you dare tread upon the staircase?
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