Guns of Darkness (1962)
Even the most ardent fan of cinema should be aware of how many 'forgotten' films are out there: there are the films you have seen; the films you are expected to have seen; and the films that no one ever seems to remember. Guns of Darkness falls into that final category. Set in the South American 'Republic of Tribulocion', this is a would-be 'big film' that has left a small impression.
It's the sort of film whose title would make a 10 year old boy sit in front of television on a Tuesday evening in 1975, filled with excitement, only to be bored within five minutes. I probably was that ten year old, but - if so - it's not a film I can remember.
Guns of Darkness suggests plenty of action - instead we get the story of a couple, Tom and Claire Jordan (David Niven and Leslie Caron) ...
... who are bored each and bored of their life. He drinks too much, whilst he moans about her smoking:
His lack of ambition, her lack of children, their expatriate lifestyle in South America, where life revolves around parties where they see the same old faces, doing the same old things, in a tired routine of mimicking the life back home, has left them on the brink of splitting up. As Claire tells Tom: "You used to be funny and alive - Now you are just drunk and bitter."
Redemption comes in the form of a coup against President Rivera (David Opatoshu) ...
... organised by an army officer, Hernandez (Derek Godfrey):
With the other British expats too concerned about their position within the country, and frightened of upsetting the new leadership in case their business interests are seized, it falls to Tom and Claire to rescue the president:
There is little action, however the film does offer Niven and Caron to play characters that are quite reflective of reality: both are actors past their prime, playing characters whose lives are directionless. Niven is no longer the dashing young lead whilst Caron is no longer the vibrant youth who so captured the imagination in Gigi.
By the end of the film, their efforts have paid off. Regardless of what happens to President Rivera or his country - regardless of whether the other British residents of Tribulocion are going to be safe - Tom and Claire are bought closer together and realise there are more important things in life than their personal problems:
The roles suit them; he doesn't try to be an action hero and she doesn't try to be a siren. They are ordinary people in an extraordinary situation. The trouble is that there relationship is more interesting than the rest of the film. As a film about Brits caught up in a South American revolution, I think I'd rather have watched Morecambe and Wise in The Magnificent Two.
It's currently available from Network DVD: