Monday, March 11, 2013

The Great Adventure (1975)

An abysmal Italian production that tries to blend elements of Jack London-style adventure with tropes from cowboy cinema, The Great Adventure would be rightly relegated to complete obscurity were it not for the presence of two familiar Hollywood B-listers, Joan Collins and Jack Palance, who are among the most indiscriminate selectors of material in film history. That they only play supporting roles with limited screen time should make no difference to anyone, because even hardcore fans of the actors would be hard-pressed to find redeeming values here. The story begins when a little boy living in the wintry Alaskan wilderness bonds with a wild German Shepherd while out hunting one day with his father—to the strains of saccharine music, the boy extracts the dog from a bear trap, and then the dog saves the boy from a wolf attack. Next comes the first of many major story shifts. The boy’s father ventures away from the family cabin for supplies, leaving the boy alone with his teenaged sister. The father dies. Then two trappers who are lost in the wilderness seek shelter with the children. Eventually, all of the characters travel to a small town ruled by gambler/landowner William Bates (Palance). One of the trappers is killed, and the other embarks on a romance with Bates’ saloon operator, Sonia Kendall (Collins). And so it goes from there—The Great Adventure can’t decide if it’s an outdoors survival tale, a boy-and-his-dog melodrama, a violent action story revolving around the evil machinations of Palance’s character, or an Old West romance. Exacerbating the chaotic storyline are cruddy production values, spastic editing, treacly music, and—of course, given the film’s Italian origin—terrible audio dubbing. Oh, and Collins and Palance phone in terrible performances, adding the final insult to unwise viewers who sample this bilge.

The Great Adventure: SQUARE

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