Monday, November 24, 2014

Inside Out (1975)



          Produced and released theatrically in England, but originally shown in the U.S. only on television (where it bore the moniker Hitler’s Gold), this picture offers a textbook example on how not to make a heist thriller. The characters are ciphers, the storyline is ludicrous, and the tension is nonexistent. After a dreary first half, the movie picks up somewhat once the actual heist gets underway, and the presence of three familiar actors in the leading roles generates a certain amount of interest. Nonetheless, there’s a reason why this picture never found a significant audience. Lots of reasons, actually.
          After a ho-hom prologue set in Nazi Germany, the picture cuts to modern-day London, where Harry Morgan (Telly Savalas) is a businessman, a criminal, or both. He’s approached by Ernst Furben (James Mason), who served in the German Army during World War II and claims to know the location of gold that was hidden by the Nazis. There’s some lip service given to how the men know each other, but, like Harry’s occupation, the information is neither clear nor memorable. In any event, Harry then recruits American adventurer Sylvester Wells (Robert Culp) to join the party. Together, the men concoct an absurd scheme that involves liberating an aging SS officer from jail, constructing a mock-up of Adolf Hitler’s WWII office, and training a man to portray Hitler. The plan also includes a dangerous and illegal entry into East Germany, which should be a source of great suspense, but is not.
          Anemically written by Judd Bernard and Stephen Schneck, Inside Out makes very little sense. The conspirators all seem friendly and trusting with each other, the obstacles the protagonists encounter are surmounted with relative ease, and the outrageous resources the thieves need always seem to be readily available. In terms of drama, logic, and tone, the movie is a disaster, right down to the all-over-the-place musical score, which combines disco passages and orchestral cues into sonic chaos. Still, star power matters, so Culp, Mason, and Savalas ensure that Inside Out is more or less watchable. (Mostly less.) In particular, Savalas’ smug swagger periodically creates the false impression that Inside Out has a sense of purpose, or at least a distinctive attitude. Further, cinematographer John Coquillon lends Inside Out a professional look, and the filmmakers make ample use of interesting European locations.

Inside Out: FUNKY

1 comment:

William Blake Hall said...

Kelly's Heroes, Brass Target, Inside Out -- Nazi gold is a subgenre!