Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Message is just medium fair

Cleveland Press March 19, 1971

The trouble with an adventure movie with a message is that unless very skillfully done both the adventure and the message get all messed up.

"The Last Valley" was produced, written and directed by James Clavell and is a labor of love but not a skillfully made movie.

The problem with the message in this message movie is that people keep stopping to deliver the message. Better that it had evolved naturally from what was on screen than to be carefully discussed over and over again.

THE SETTING is the Thirty Years War in the l7th Century which at least has the virtue of being a war not overdone in the movies.

Omar Sharif as a wandering philospher finds himself one step ahead of marauding troops and the plague. He stumbles into a lush, untouched valley and a contigent of soldiers, led by Michael Caine, stumbles in right after him.

Talking fast to save his neck, Sharif convinces Caine that he and his men ought to forgoe the usual pillage, plunder and rape routine, and settle in for the winter. Work a deal with the villagers is what he tells Caine in essence. Protect them and they'll feed you while you call a time-out in the war.

HE ALSO HAS to convince the village leader, Nigel Davenport, who is not above bargaining to save his skin.

The leader therefore agrees to offering sufficient food, a few of the village women and even his own mate so that everything and everyone else will be left alone. Meanwhile he's plotting his own double cross.

Caine, who has had a tendency to walk through roles lately, here offers one of his better performances, and a consistent one throughout. Sharif on the, other hand does little more than look soulful and sincere.

There are great big gobs of color -- the lush green of the valley, the rich red of flowing blood. There are moments out of Breughal's paintings in all this.

But there also are those great big gobs of talk.