Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Sailor Who Fell From Grace WIth The Sea (1976)

Dir: Lewis John Carlino

A film about a single mother, Anne (Sarah Myles), raising a troubled pubescent boy, John, who loves ships and belongs to a secret society of boys led by Chief. Chief is a sociopath that bullies the boys into seeing the world the way he does. It's a bitter, cynical viewpoint that places all adults as compromising liars. The thing that Chief hates above all things appears to be not staying true to one's own nature. This is exemplified in a scene where he gets the boys to drug a house cat so that Chief can dissect it and pull out it's still beating heart. The film seems to want to place the blame solely on an absence of male or father figures in the boys' lives. A male presence is only introduced once Anne meets Jim (Kris Kristofferson), even though some of the other boys mention their fathers, they are never shown. When Anne first starts dating Jim, John seems pleased. He holds the sea and all things connected to it (such as sailors for example) as something that is perfect and untouched. Trouble really begins when Jim quits being a sailor to stay with Anne and John and the boys take this as sign of weakness. The movie could have been an interesting exercise in human nature but feels more like a lifetime movie of the week. The soundtrack drips with a sickening sentimentality and Sarah Myles gives a pained performance as the pitiful, clueless widow. There are a few moments of horror and cringe worthy sexuality that let's you know it wasn't made for television, but the overall look and feel would have you think otherwise. Seeing that this was based on a story by Mishima and that it was the from the writer of Seconds (1966), I had rather high hopes for the film that were not met.
The DVD is long out of print and there are no special features at all. There's a wait on Netflix but I was still able to get it in fairly quickly. I would suggest starting there before purchasing a copy for the $50 collectors price tag.


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