(To be read with stagy, Ruskie accent, please.) After CRANES ARE FLYING/’57* win international prize (during Cold War, yet), with sweet, but sad tale of young Soviet love during Great Patriotic War, director Mikhail Kalatozov and ace cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky make fantasy ‘dokumentary’ I AM CUBA/’64. First film, sentimental tripe everyone love; second film, movie geek porn unseen for decades, now famous for impossible cantilevered tracking shots. Very boring, but . . . hoo, boy, some show! Forgotten in middle is here, noble three-hankie tale of four intrepid geologists (three menski, one womanski) searching, searching, searching for diamond lode in not so cheery Siberia. Will love triangle tear them apart? Will radio hold up? Will dancing for joy cause broken toe? Much noble sacrifice; much handsome images & artful silhouette; many stupendous tracking shots thru forests. Why? Who care! And score? Nikolai Kryukov make music dramatics worthy of Bolshoi; Aram Khachaturian drooling with envy, consigns SPARTACUS ballet score to flames! (Lucky have back up copy.)
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY/WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Fatal mission pics are not so rare, think SCOTT OF THE ANTARCTIC/’48, NORTHWEST PASSAGE/’40 or Kalatozov’s final pic, THE RED TENT/’69, an international dud with Sean Connery, Peter Finch & 70mm. (Sergey Bondarchuk had a similar international wreck when he followed his huge production of WAR AND PEACE/’66* with Rod Steiger(!) playing Napoleon in WATERLOO/’70.) Best to pop this pretentious bubble with Buster Keaton’s THE BOAT/21, his two-reel existential masterpiece (with laughs) as Buster & family get permanently lost at sea . . . or some absurdist no man’s land. Damn if I know.
*Reviewed on this site.