When listing actors who are synonymous with macho adventure, we cite such formidable fellows as Kirk Douglas, Gary Cooper, and John Wayne. We generally don’t mention Mel Tormé, the doughy crooner and occasional actor. Yet Land of No Return, a low-budget family film featuring Tormé’s last starring role in a feature, is a wilderness saga about one man battling for survival amid the frozen peaks of the Rocky Mountains in Utah. Despite being alone onscreen for most of the picture’s running time, Tormé is never more than serviceable here, and he’s such a fleshy urbanite that it stretches believability when he withstands endless suffering. Therefore, questions abound, chief among them this one: Why was Tormé hired for this project? Even William Shatner, who appears onscreen for about 10 minutes in a supporting role, would have been a more sensible choice. Anyway, Tormé plays Zak O’Brien, the animal trainer for a successful TV show featuring an eagle and a wolf. Flying in his private plane with his two superstar animals, Zak crashes and then hides out in caves and forests while slowly working his way back toward civilization. The trained eagle, whom he calls Caesar, is his only companion, so Tormé spends a whole lot of the movie talking to himself—that is, when he isn’t digging into his seemingly bottomless suitcase filled with ugly plaid sports jackets to bundle against the cold. Although Land of No Return is dull and enervated and schlocky, there’s ultimately not much purpose beating up a picture like this one—viewers who can’t resist the compulsion to seek out a cheaply made nature saga starring the man known as “The Velvet Fog” have only themselves to blame.
Land of No Return: LAME