Sunday, 23 February 2014

"DIAMOND HEAD" OR THE MANY COLORS OF CHARLTON HESTON (1962)



 

Not expecting much, I was pleasantly surprised by this Charlton Heston flick. Especially since the actor is far from being my favorite among Hollywood’s top leading men. Yes, I admit, his well-publicized right wing antics mostly have something to do with it. BUT because the man has now passed on, and I know how to spot a good/bad film when I see one, I’m more than willing to overlook anything regarding Heston’s dubious politics. So, as I was saying, DIAMOND HEAD is an enjoyable romp. It’s one of those huge films based on a big best-seller of the time, in this case by one Peter Gilman. Set on a pineapple plantation in Hawaii, the film begins with widower/landowner Heston having the hardest time accepting his kid sister Yvette Mimieux’s involvement with a native Hawaiian, played by cutie James Darren. So much so that when wedding bells are to chime for the couple he "accidentally" knifes her fiancé to death. Well, that’s what the script wants us to believe, since the poor sod gets caught in the middle of a switchblade fight during an engagement luau. But since this isn’t a prison flick, though the pervert in me sort of wishes that it was just to see the lead suffer greatly at the hands of a big guy named Buba, Heston gets off scot-free.
 
 
 

Even for a bigot like Heston (I’m talking about the character here) the need to control everything and everyone comes with a high price: hatred. Hatred from sis who just can’t stand the sight of him after losing her beau, hatred from the natives when Heston tries to dwell into politics (again, the character not the actor) after the "accidental" killing of one of their own, but most importantly hatred from half-brother of the deceased, WEST SIDE STORY’s George Chakiris, a half-breed doctor who drools over Mimieux but can’t accept that fact because of their skin colors and backgrounds. Speaking of drooling, the film surprises even more by dabbing into possible incest when Mimieux superimposes Chakiris/Darren for Heston in a frolicking in the nude dream sequence. A sort of ménage à four for the filthy mind. But If you blink once, you’ll miss it.

 

Of course, like any Hollywood bad guy, Heston has manly needs. And I’m not talking about his possible dibs on Mimieux or a down-low action sequence with Chakiris, though that would have been quite a sight. No, what I’m referring to is a secret fling with island beauty France Nuyen who later on announces that she bares his child. Refusing to acknowledge his fatherhood, Heston leaves Nuyen for good, only to return later when she dies during labor. Mimieux, alone now that her ménage à four is over and done with, brings the love child to the mansion. But when Big Bro still wants nothing to do with it she, with baby in tow, runs off with Chakiris. Yes, Chakiris who has a sudden change of heart for the sake of the film, but not before going at it with Heston—in a fistfight sequence, I mean. It all comes down to Heston, feeling total abandonment, deciding to go after his lovechild—which is what any well-respected parent should do. On second thought, maybe not. He is after all Charlton Heston.


 
 



 
Until next post—Martin
 
 


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