• U.S.

Cinema: Futile Flight

2 minute read
TIME

ESCAPE TO THE SUN

Directed by MENAHEM GOLAN

Screenplay by MENAHEM GOLAN and JOSEPH GROSS

Anxious to escape prejudice and persecution in Soviet Russia, a small group of Jews plots to hijack an airliner and fly to freedom. It is a story of particular contemporary urgency. Director Golan displays the ability to separate it from all its political complexities and moral imperatives, and reduce it to clichés that everyone will understand.

Laurence Harvey, who once played the Manchurian candidate, appears here as a Moscow commissar, sporting the kind of heavy leather trench coat that suggests Slavic villainy the way a black stetson in a western signals evil. He takes special delight in tor turing Jews. After inflicting one especially impassioned beating, Harvey makes his way out of the traditionally dank subterranean cell as an awestruck underling inquires, “What now? Are you going back to the office?”

The victims of Harvey’s dedication are portrayed by an ill-assorted crew of international actors (Josephine Chaplin, John Ireland, Lila Kedrova, Jack Hawkins, Yuda Barkan) who give the collective impression of a Berlitz class on a field trip. Harvey inevitably tracks them all down and brings them to injustice. Since the film opens with their trial and sentencing, this fate will surprise no one. They accept their punishment with dignity, although audiences may be forgiven for not receiving theirs in quite the same spirit.

∎ J.C.

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