Sunday, September 10, 2017

No Place to Hide (1970)

          First, a disclaimer—the following remarks pertain to a recut 1980s version of an original 1970 film, so it’s possible these reactions don’t apply to the earlier version. No Place to Hide first hit screens as a low-budget political thriller featuring then-unknown Sylvester Stallone in an important role. He plays a member of a Weather Underground-type group planning to bomb an office building as an act of radical anti-Vietnam War activism. The story intercuts his exploits with an investigation by FBI agents as well as scenes depicting the activities of other radicals. An ironic oh-the-humanity ending concludes the storyline, to the surprise of exactly no one. After Stallone scored with Rocky (1976), the picture was recut to focus on his participation and given the new title Rebel. Yet another reissue followed in 1990, with the material somehow reconfigured for laughs under the moniker A Man Called . . . Rainbo. If nothing else, the mutability of the material and the apparent failure of anyone involved in the first incarnation to protect the sanctity of the piece suggests that No Place to Hide, the original film, was lackluster.
          Certainly that adjective, and much stronger ones conveying disappointment, suit the ’80s version screened for this review. (Best guess—the rights holders reconfigured the material for home-video release, adding horrible mechanized music and low-rent electronic title cards.) On the plus side, Stallone brings his usual impassioned quality to his performance as anguished radical Jerry. On the minus side, he’s grossly miscast, which becomes painfully apparent during scenes of his character romancing a hippy-dippy girl who says things like this: “The deeper I reach, the more roads I take into the universe—my universe.” Unless you’re a Sly completist, chances are the only version worth tracking down is the warts-and-all ’70s original, and even in that circumstance, viewers shouldn’t expect much. FYI, No Place to Hide features Henry G. Sanders, respected by many for his naturalistic work in Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep (1977), as the lead FBI agent. His work here is not impressive.

No Place to Hide: LAME

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