Less Would Have Been Moore
"Shout at the Devil" is based on a novel by Wilbur Smith with a few things changed in adaptation, Smith's novel is in turn loosely based on the sinking of the SMS K├Ânigsberg. What does that mean, well beneath various elements "Shout at the Devil" is inspired by a true story but one which has firstly been turned into an entertaining drama and then turned into a movie with events and characters written to entertain. And as such this movie from the mid 70s has a familiarity about it as we have some comical characters, a mix of hard hitting and amusing drama, adventure, romance and action culminating in the mission to sink a boat. It works but there is something about it which doesn't and is why compared to other similar action adventure movies from the 70s it is not so well remembered.
Having watched Sebastian Oldsmith (Roger Moore - The Man with the Golden Gun) arrive in town, heavy drinking American Colonel Flynn O'Flynn (Lee Marvin - Point Blank) cons him into helping him poach ivory from German East Africa. German Commander Herman Fleischer (Reinhard Kolldehoff) on discovering that O'Flynn and a Brit have been poaching ivory vows to hunt them down coming close on a few occasions. At the same time Sebastian meets Rosa (Barbara Parkins), O'Flynn's daughter and much to his disapproval his daughter and Sebastian fall in love and marry although he is happy when they produce him a grandchild. But on one of their escapades into Fleischer's territory they discover that the German and his army have headed to the O'Flynn home where Rosa and the baby remain and following Fleischer's sadistic moment of evilness Rosa vows to kill him leading to Sebastian taking on a deadly mission.
I will tell you what is wrong with "Shout at the Devil" and that is to turn this story of WWI daring they have added some typical Hollywood elements which cause it to run to a numbing 150 minutes. What that means is the first half of the movie is very comical as we meet O'Flynn who not only drinks a lot but is always on the scam and is not averse to a fight and yes that means we have a comical fight scene between Marvin and Moore which is shot in a John Ford style. All of which wouldn't be so bad if it didn't go on and on because during this period all we learn is the O'Flynn is a hard drinking scam artist and Sebastian falls for Rosa.
What also doesn't help is that after well over an hour of jokey scenes including one which sees a hole cut in a mattress to steal a wallet from beneath a pillow the tone suddenly shifts to dark, disturbing and serious. That all comes with the scenes which see Fleischer attack O'Flynn's residence leaving death and destruction in his wake, a powerful and unsettling series of scenes. Then what follows on from there is basically action all the way with some of it suggestively brutal as Rosa is hell bent on killing Fleischer whilst we also learn of the German boat under repair hidden in a canal. If it wasn't for the fact we have the same characters it would feel like a different movie as we have action, drama, seriousness and the part which is based on the true story of the attempt to sink a German ship.
This second half culminates in a big action finale and one which differs from Smith's novel but feels both generic and brutal. That in the end is the most stand out thing about "Shout at the Devil" because the performances from Marvin, Moore and Barbara Parkins who plays Rosa are typical but the suggested brutality is surprising. Well that and the fact Ian Holm stars alongside Marvin as his right hand man Mohammed who as a mute doesn't say a word the entire movie, yes that is a waste of Holm's talent but he does his best to give Mohammed some character.
What this all boils down to is that "Shout at the Devil" suffers because instead of just sticking to the action, adventure storyline an overlong introduction is included which not only jars with the second half of the movie but also makes it over long.
Tags: World War I