|Rod Taylor as a mercenary.|
Taylor plays Curry, a mercenary who has accepted $50,000 to rescue some people--and $50 million in diamonds--from a town in northern Congo that's under threat of an attack from the rebel Simbas. Curry and his Congo-born crony, Ruffo (Jim Brown), must complete their mission in three days. They recruit 40 Congolese soldiers, an alcoholic doctor (Kenneth More), and an ex-Nazi German officer named Heinlein (Peter Carsten).
|Jim Brown as Ruffo.|
|Yvette Mimieux has a small role, reteaming|
her with her Time Machine co-star.
This scene, plus a brutal fight at the climax, has earned Dark of the Sun a reputation as a grim, violent film. To be sure, the atrocities, which are implied more than they are shown, are not for squeamish viewers. There was no rating system when the film was released, but it was subsequently given a PG rating in 1973 (there was no PG-13 at the time). Director Jack Cardiff cut several gruesome scenes in order to secure the film's release.
Cardiff is best known as one of the greatest cinematographers in the history of cinema, having photographed Black Narcissus (1947), The Red Shoes (1948), and The African Queen (1951). He only directed 13 feature films, including two 1960s adventures with Rod Taylor: Dark of the Sun and the tongue-in-cheek The Liquidator (1965). Surprisingly, there's nothing visually striking about Dark of the Sun, although Cardiff makes one believe the film takes place in Africa (in reality, the locations were the Caribbeans and a British studio). He also handles the impressive action scenes with aplomb.
|Curry and Ruffo discuss what makes them tick.|
Dark of the Sun provides Jim Brown with one of his best roles as Ruffo. The former football great was typically typecast as macho men of action (e.g., Ice Station Zebra, Slaughter). But he brings sensitivity and intelligence to Ruffo, while still looking comfortable with an automatic weapon in his hand. He also gets to deliver the film's best-known line of dialogue, stating that he came from a tribe that believed: "If you eat the heart and brain of your enemy, his strength and wisdom will be added to your own."
Surprisingly, that sums up Dark of the Sun pretty well: It's a violent adventure film with more heart and a little more intelligence than you might expect.
This review is part of Rod Taylor Week at the Cafe, our week-long tribute to the Australian actor. Click here to read more reviews of his films.