Adaptations of Alistair MacLean’s pulpy adventure novels emerged regularly throughout the ’70s, though none achieved the stature of The Guns of Navarone (1961), the most successful movie yet derived from a MacLean story. Watching Golden Rendezvous offers a quick reminder of why so many of these pictures failed to generate excitement. An action saga set on the waters of the Caribbean, Golden Rendezvous has a little bit of everything—bombs, double-crosses, fist fights, gambling, gun fights, hijacking, knife fights, murder, sex, and so on. The overarching story makes sense once all the pieces fall into place, but the character work runs the questionable gamut from iffy to one-dimensional, and the gender politics belong to an earlier era. In other words, Golden Rendezvous is regressive macho silliness so determined to avoid depth and substance that whenever it seems like a moment of true human feeling is about to appear onscreen, the filmmakers introduce some element of danger and/or violence. And if there’s any meaning or theme being served here, then it’s only because the filmmakers failed in their efforts to keep such things at bay. Golden Rendezvous is pleasant enough to watch for the action scenes, and the cast is plenty colorful, but you’ll forget having watched the thing before the end credits finish rolling.
Richard Harris stars as John Carter, first officer on a boat that hauls cargo but also includes a high-end casino. When criminals led by Luis Carreras (John Vernon) hijack the ship, Carter springs into action, forming covert alliances with trustworthy crewmen and passengers while also using sneaky tactics to eliminate thugs one by one. The plot becomes more ridiculous with each passing scene, so by the end of the picture, Golden Rendezvous involves not just the hijacking but also a blackmail scheme and even a nuclear bomb. MacLean was a whiz at generating suspenseful situations, but credibility was never his strong suit. Still, Harris is enjoyable here, all lanky athleticism and roguish charm, and several solid actors support him. Besides Vernon’s reliable villainy, the picture offers, in much smaller roles, John Carradine, David Janssen, and Burgess Meredith. As for leading lady Ann Turkel, one can’t blame Harris for trying to help his then-wife build an acting career—this was the third of four Harris movies in which she costars. As went their marriage, alas, so too did her run in big-budget movies.
Golden Rendezvous: FUNKY