Friday, 11 March 2011



This isn't the place to examine gender emasculation in popular culture, and I'm not the person to do it, but I can't help feeling that modern Man isn't as manly as he used to be. Since the advent of the New Man, the caring, sharing, crying Man, since James Bond stopped humping everything that moved, Men in films have been pale shadows in comparison. Who are our Men these days? Orlando Bloom? Robert Pattinson? Matthew McConaughey? Snivelling nancies to a "man". Sure they're hunky with their shirts off but you don't get a sense that they've experienced anything in their comfortable, well-provided lives. Do you get the sense that Bloom could take four drunks in a bar brawl? Can you see Pattinson as one of the Dirty Dozen? Alternatively, the robotic killing machines: the Stallones, the Stathams. Never mind the XY chromosomes, these "guys" aren't even human beings. Now look at Charles Bronson: carved from granite, looks a hundred and fifty years old and looks like he's fought in a dozen wars - but with charisma, intelligence, force of personality and a basic believable humanity. That's a real, proper Man.

Even though I like Charles Bronson a lot, CaboBlanco is a pretty lame affair - with a title like that, and with a corrupt but amiable police chief, Nazis, a woman from the French Resistance and the hero hiding out in a forgotten corner of the world, the makers were clearly hoping to evoke echoes of Casablanca. Frankly they were deluded and they were just not up to the job - a job that didn't need doing and couldn't be done anyway. Bronson runs a hotel in the titular Peruvian fishing town - a town run by local bigshot and escaped war criminal Jason Robards, and crooked cop Fernando Rey. And of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, French ice maiden Dominique Sanda walks into Bronson's place. In addition to tracking down her former lover, she's after the location of a shipwreck containing twenty million dollars in gold. Robards is after it as well - and so is Brit Simon MacCorkindale. But who knows where it is?

Sadly it's a fairly dull film with not much action in it, and it doesn't give Bronson much opportunity to stand up and be counted in the fight against injustice; to hit people or to shoot people. Sanda is a terribly boring female lead and Jason Robards only gets a couple of scenes to do his bad guy stuff. And despite only being an hour and half, the film feels long, and the climactic reveal, as to who knows where the shipwreck is, is just plain stupid. Worse, the British DVD presentation is shocking - widescreen, but non-anamorphic and still the wrong ratio, mastered off what looks like VHS, and with the distributor logo burned into the frame five or six times throughout the running time. Even the presense of a lesser-known Jerry Goldsmith score isn't enough to commend it. (Bizarrely, the DVD also includes an episode of an American TV show from 1959 entitled United States Marshal, starring John Bromfield - no, me neither - apparently added because the week's guest fugitive was Charles Bronson!)


Don't say you weren't warned:

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