Wednesday, January 14, 2015

1959 - Ten Seconds to Hell, is subpar Aldrich

In probably a match made in Hell.   Robert Aldrich teamed up with Hammer Studios to make this film about a bomb disposal unit working in Berlin at the end of World War II.  Aldrich cast Jeff Chandler, Jack Palance and Martine Carol.  In a typically perverse Aldrich move, Jeff Chandler who usually played good guys is the bad guy and Jack Palance who usually played bad guys is the good guy.  Marine Carol was sort of a "oh la la" Marilyn Monroe sex symbol because in movies you always have to have a girl.

The plot involves a bomb disposal unit of ex German soldiers who one by one get blown to smithereens by unexploded British bombs.  The tension arises from figuring out who will survive this suicidal job.

The chief problem with Ten Seconds to Hell is that it is kind of boring.  The bomb disposal scenes should have had almost a Hitchcockian approach to ramping up the suspense but curiously these scenes are completely lacking in any kind of interest or tension.  Supposedly Hammer Studios was so disappointed in the finished film that they removed about 30 minutes from Aldrich's original cut.  Aldrich felt that this made the film incomprehensible but after viewing this film and in particular the scenes involving the disarming of the bombs I don't think adding 30 minutes to the running time would have helped this story.

Robert Aldrich was always a director who liked his films a little over the top.  In this case it would seem that in spite of Jack Palance's rather eccentric performance, the finished film was just to conventional for such a dramatic subject.

93 minutes

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