I Saw A Film!
Following up on King Solomon’s Treasure, I dove back into this old 80s schlock starring the dashing Richard Chamberlin and a young, very darling moon-faced Sharon Stone. Like KST, this tale is basically a long chase sequence, dragging our posh white woman (Stone) through a series of travails and perils and leaving her ripe for rescue at every turn. Say what you will about such stories, but many boys and girls are kind of wired to love that sort of thing and so we keep making these sorts of adventures. It doesn’t mean you can’t have a Laura Croft, but a good damsel-in-distress (Quatermain quips that she isn’t in distress but rather she causes it everywhere she goes) is a trope much adored in our collective psyche. The big difference here is that this film side-steps much of the likely enlightened complaint by being entirely comic, there isn’t a whiff of anything pretending authenticity. And, while these movies have a long Hollywood history (there’s a version of this from 1919! another 20 years later and Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger share a 1950 edition).
Along for the ride are Herbert Lom as a devout German officer, and John Rhys-Davies as a Turkish accomplice torturing Stone’s archeologist father in hopes of locating the famed titular mines. When they realize they can get their hands on his daughter the chase is on. Stone is captured and rolled up in rugs, escapes by Jackie Chan-ing off of buildings onto parapets, is pinched by cannibals (they’re just grocery shopping, quips Quatermain), and generally roughed up each time leaving her a little more disheveled and hair mussed.
Chamberlin for his part is excellent in this role, he’s both able to leap through windows, and deliver believable punches (Sharon cannot, and editing is used to make her spazziness look vital) as well as lay on the charm and pull off the comic bits. I’m not sure there really ever was a better screen presence than Chamberlin and I, of course, thought he was monumental in the old Shogun miniseries that I’ve not looked at since I was a kid.
Granted in these Raiders of the Lost Arc coattail riders we’re having to deal with the adventure game puzzle solving so often a silly trope, knowing which stone to step on so you don’t trigger a demonic beast attack is par for the temple raid. Much use is made of lava and an evil prune-faced tribal witch who pursues our band of hapless treasure seekers like a revenant until she too falls victim to the magma. The heroes and foes alike stuff their pockets with the treasure only to lose almost all of it in a much more thoughtful and clean conscious ending giving them love instead of riches. Aw.
We’re not as insulted by comedy, so when we’re meeting the tribe of people who live dangling by their ankles, or we’re seeing our protagonists dumped into a huge pot to make Sharon Stone stew, we know it’s all in good goofball fun.
Running free on Prime and silly fun. Sharon may never have been better.