Nicholson's Killer Script?
Hitman for hire Billy Poole (Gene Nelson - Oklahoma!) is hired to go to a Caribbean island where the exiled South American dictator Antonio Perez (José de San Antón) lives and assassinate him. To get there Billy and his contact Anita Chavez (Miriam Colon) hold Helen Dodge (Fay Spain) hostage in order to get her husband Vincent (Brian Kelly) to sail Billy to the island. But with his wife's life in danger Vincent isn't going to do exactly what he is told as he has to rescue her.
Does that sound like an exciting movie? It didn't sound exciting to me prior to watching and whilst an admitted movie fan it is the sort of movie I might have ignored if it wasn't for one name. That name is Jack Nicholson, the famous actor who doesn't actually appear in this movie but is listed as one of the writers. The minute I saw that I wondered what sort or writing style Nicholson had and whilst he shares the writing credit with Don Devlin I some how hoped that I could spot the Nicholson influence in the movie. It is probably the only reason why anyone would seek out "Thunder Island" to watch these days.
Unfortunately whilst Don Devlin and Jack Nicholson wrote the script what we end up with is just a routine 1960s thriller which whilst not looking like a cheap production lacks the flare of one which had time and money on its side. It is also sadly not the most enthralling of scripts with the first half dragging and feeling it is padding to make it last the 65 minutes; yes this is not even a 90 minute movie.
The only things that "Thunder Island" has going for it is firstly Gene Nelson who tries to bring some character to his hitman, although often ends up coming across as over the top. And secondly the locations where "Thunder Island" is shot are nice and some of the better camera work comes when the natural beauty is being captured rather than when it is focussing on the actual actors.
What this all boils down to is that "Thunder Island" would be just a forgettable drama from 1963 which no one would even be curious about if it wasn't for the fact that is one of just a few movies where Jack Nicholson worked as one of the writers. Sadly Nicholson's voice when it comes to the script seems to have been lost as there is nothing noticeably special about any of it.