Sunday, February 13, 2011

Robert's Italian job : Down there in the jungle

During his career, Robert Powell has starred in some Italian productions. Obviously, I don’t count The Italian Job (which is a pure and excellent British film, of course!), Robert started his Italian career with Jesus of Nazareth, which was a co-production ITC (UK) and Radiotelevisione italiana (Italy). After Jesus of Nazareth, Robert starred in 1977 the excellent Liliana Cavani’s Beyond good and evil, then in 1985 he starred the highly watchable D’Annunzio (where he looked gorgeous, with a magnificent beard!!), a year later he appeared in the regrettable Down there in the jungle, and then in 1992 he starred the underrated Il Segno del commando.
I’ve always wondered why he made so many Italian films. Many times he had said that British film industry was really bad and that Hollywood didn’t attract him. He preferred Europe, Italy is a sunny place, food is excellent, we all agree. But was he drugged, drunk or life-threatened when he signed for Down there in the jungle???????
Hopefully, this films is so hard to find, that let’s hope nobody had seen it! Sadly, I did! I’ve found a Greek copy on Ebay. The film is Italian, dubbed in English (with Greek subtitles). The film is about a group of tourists on a trip in the Italian countryside that found themselves in the middle of a dangerous jungle after the bus leaves them in the highway. All the characters are so stupid, the situations are so corny and the camera movements are so ridiculous that not even Quentin Tarantino would reproduce them! In a word, the film is bad! At least to me as I’ve recently found a comment about this film in the IMDB, which gives another view of the film :
I came across this little masterpiece on TV, late one night, by pure chance. No-one seems to have ever heard of it here in Italy. The plot is quite simple, during a bus ride in the Italian countryside a group of nine people get stranded along the highway (the bus has to stop because of a blown tyre and then departs without them). Their journey back to some inhabited place slowly becomes a magical adventure, where tamed woods become wild jungles and nothing is what it seems. The characters themselves, quiet, common people at the beginning, undergo a transformation that makes them very similar to those dark, cynical, mysterious characters in Hollywood 40es dramas set in Africa or Asia. Even their demeanor and their voices change, they all seem to have some dark secret in their past, all their good qualities and faults come out sharp, heroes and villains, coward husbands and misbehaving wives. They all have to come to terms with their past but at the end of the journey they will all be stronger, better persons. I strongly recommend it.
After I read that comment I felt a little stupid, for the mere reason that I just can't change my mind, I still think it’s a terrible film!! But I like to know there are differents point of views and that all of them are not negative.
For the first time, Robert plays a character that you just want to estrangulate! OK, I’m exaggerating, but he plays an irritating “know-it-all” professor. He dubs himself and his voice sounds like a bad imitation of Hannay’s archenemy Count Von Schwabing.
Robert seems to ask himself what he's doing down there in the jungle

In a few words, if What waits below was bad, this one is REALLY BAD. But thanks God, that’s all, Robert’s other films are quite decent. Sadly, not all of them are the masterpiece in which I would have loved him to star, but some are just great.
I leave you with a few scenes of this jewel so you can judge by yourself :

1 comment:

Irene said...

He speaks soooo funny that I actually enjoyed the clip. :-)

P.S. Watched "What Waits Below" last weekend - not that bad at all. It even seemed to me, the movie has some additional charm (aside from main character's charm which is of course unquestionable. ;-)