Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Flick Pick: Zulu

(Paramount, 1964)

The far better film mentioned yesterday, from 15 years earlier, and an enduring masterwork in the war film genre. Made mostly on location in Natal, co-written and directed by the same (blacklisted) Cy Endfield as Zulu Dawn, and co-produced by him and the star, Stanley Baker. They also had Jack Hawkins in another great performance, and managed to find some promising new guy never featured before named Michael Caine. Alongside them are a host of British actors otherwise forgettable elsewhere who shine in every role in this film. With hardly a wasted moment, shot, or line, this movie was phenomenally good, and rightly regarded thusly both then and now. The format has been aped accidentally or on purpose times without number since, and even unquestioned greats like Ridley Scott outright stole bits of it (using the Zulu attack chant wholesale - unforgivably lazy for such a film maestro, even if it was an intended homage - in Gladiator) because it is reportedly one of his favorite films. They get far more of the details, and the actual story, right, than all the things they take cinematic liberty with, and it stands as proof of how easy it is to make a great flick and get most things right, if you just make the effort to try. It unaccountably fell out of copyright for awhile, so there are any number of awful DVD versions out there. But even the worst of them can't mute this masterpiece or the story it tells so well.

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