Shout at the Devil? Judge Bill Gibron would rather box with God, but his arms are too short.
More like one long drawn out moan at action film fans…
Flynn O'Flynn (Lee Marvin, Cat Ballou) loves two things—ivory and drinking. Along with his faithful manservant Mohammed (Ian Holm, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring), he enjoys heading into German occupied East Africa and getting his tusk on. Sadly, he's been finding it harder and harder to infiltrate this pre-World War I area, so he sets his sights on a British man named Sebastian Oldsmith (Roger Moore, Live and Let Die) to help him out and, before you know it, the pair are playing at the elephant eradicating game. This makes Herman Fleischer (Reinhart Kolldehoff, The Winds of War), German Commissioner / Military Commander of the Southern Province very angry. He thwarts their attempts, causing Flynn and Sebastian to retreat to the former's home. There, the latter meets Rosa (Barbara Parkins, Valley of the Dolls), Flynn's daughter. She is soon married to Sebastian and they have a baby girl. When Fleischer's retaliatory actions hit too close to home, the gang gets together to destroy his ship.
The best way to describe Shout at the Devil is that it's a father's film. It's the kind of movie I could see my dad sitting down to, half-dressed, warming beer in his hand, eyes slowly closing as he lets the rest of the day dissolve away while getting lost in a good old fashioned rip-roaring action yarn. It's the kind of film you could fall asleep halfway through, wake-up startled from an explosion, and instantly realize you haven't missed much, narratively speaking. It features a true macho man in the lead (Lee Marvin), a British version of the same for those who like their action heroes on the far more sophisticated side (Roger Moore) and the requisite villain to hiss and howl over (Reinhard Kolldehoff-even his name sounds evil). Director Peter Hunt, perhaps best known as the Man who Made George Lazenby a 007 (he directed On Her Majesty's Secret Service) offers up his journeyman take of thrills, and it's just enough to keep the otherwise non-discerning papa from picking up the remote (or in my day, screaming for his son) and turning the channel. The end result is the kind of entertainment that used to play on a double bill with something like Emperor of the North or Breakheart Pass.
The film itself is a bit loopy. It initially wants to focus on ivory poaching (and some nasty moments of elephant murder) and the drunken antics of Marvin. Then it switches over to a pseudo love story when Moore falls for his buddy's daughter, Rosa. Barbara Parkins is fetching in the role, but we do expect something a bit more ripe and fertile when it comes to these men. Finally, we get the necessary revenge plot where our heroes head out to show their German nemesis what happens when you upset this particular apple cart. Add in Ian Holm as a decidedly non-Arab Arab and some significant local color and you have something that's too long, too convoluted, and too obvious to be a classic, but just goofy and grandstanding enough to keep you entertained. In fact, there's a lot of fun to be had here, with Marvin doing his best (and by this point, patented) inebriated heel routine and Moore manning up for some significant side by side butt kicking. We even get the enjoyment of watching Kolldehoff chew the scenery like it's a serving of schnitzel with noodles. The end result is a pip, though not without its concerns and missteps.
Shout! Factory via their label Timeless once again excels at putting out an obscurity in the best possible tech spec way it can. There is only a photo gallery for added content, so those looking for some enlightening extras need to probe another medium for such info. As for the sound and image, the 2.35:1, 1080p presentation is crisp, clean, colorful, and loaded with detail. If they did a whole new remaster, they did a fine job. If they didn't, they obviously had access to a fairly pristine print. As for the aural aspect of this release, we are given a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio Mono mix (via two channels) which provides easily discernible dialogue and some action scene heft. It's not immersive or spatially adept, but it does the job on this otherwise fine film.
Still, for all its positives, Shout at the Devil will provide a few moments of non-PC pause (the elephant stuff is just…ugh…). It's the perfect respite for your average angry middle aged man with a nap in his future and a two plus hour film acting as his substitute Sominex. All others, proceed with a bit of cinematic caution.
Not guilty. A nice diversion for a lazy weekend afternoon.
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