Monday, February 13, 2012

Green Fire (1954)

Yowza, what an opening! Stewart Granger finds an old Conquistador mine that holds the promise of emeralds, then gets bushwhacked, shot, whacked unconscious, thrown down a mountain. When he comes to, he’s very nearly lunch for a jaguar. And that’s just the first five minutes of this movie! Certainly right up my alley, and I was hooked.

Alas, then the rest of the movie happened...

No, I don't really mean that. It was entertaining and I enjoyed it all, but it's hard to live up to an action-packed beginning like this film has, and it soon bogged down in romance. Granted, the romance is between Stewart Granger and Grace Kelly! Now, there's a ridiculously good-looking couple! Anyway, there's quite a bit good about this movie. In particular: Paul Douglas. I absolutely love Paul Douglas in everything I've seen him in, and he's far and away the best part of this movie. He gets all the cool dialogue and made me laugh quite a few times, he gets to save the day more than once, he gets to be the emotional center of the film, and he gets to deck Stewart Granger... As long as Paul Douglas was around, I was very happy with this movie.

But let's back up... Stewart Granger plays Rian Mitchell, a miner looking for that one big strike that will make him rich. He thinks he may have found it with the conquistador mine's potential for emeralds, but he needs money to mine it properly. His long-suffering partner, Vic (Paul Douglas), is just about to head for a nice stable job in Canada. Naturally, Granger has to muck up those plans so his partner (and his partner's money) support him. Granger's playing a charming (is he ever not??), but rather unscrupulous and very, very selfish man. He uses everyone around him, manipulating anyone gullible enough to fall for his line, so he can pursue his emeralds. I thought Granger was prefect in his role, just the right ruthless line, just the right charisma to get away with it, and just enough guilt to make me still like him.

Grace Kelly plays the hardworking owner of a coffee plantation that lies below the mine. She's trying desperately to make the place profitable. She has a younger brother, played by John Ericson. Naturally, Kelly and Granger fall in love. Naturally, his selfishness causes tragedy and ends up pitting the two against each other. There's also some local bandits, led by Murvyn Vye, who wants the emeralds -- but are perfectly willing to let Granger do all the work first, then come take the precious gems later. There's plenty more action, and a spectacular finish, and really, it was quite entertaining... I shouldn't have any complaints... but something never entirely gels to make this movie anything more than simply entertaining. I can't quite put my finger on it, though, since romance is my least favorite genre, I tend to want to point my finger at the romance in this film, perhaps unfairly. But it seems a bit unreal, and there's less chemistry between the two leads than I would like (I really like Grace Kelly, but she seems a bit uncomfortable in this movie), and I really don't get why she wants to stick with Granger when all is said in done. Not when Paul Douglas is so much more wonderful. There's definitely a Hollywood gloss to the proceedings. (The brother is also very annoying.)

But this movie still quite entertained me.

There's a really nice score by Miklos Rozsa, though what's up with the song sung over the credits? Ugh! It's a liberal helping of schmaltz that does not remotely fit this movie. Ah well, it's short, and the rest of the score is nice.

Also, some great location shooting down in Columbia really helped ground the movie.

Did I mention Paul Douglas was awesome? :-D


  1. I have seen this movie only once, and that was about 3 years ago. I was on a quest to see all of Grace Kelly's films. It was my first exposure to Stewart Granger, and that was before my appreciation of him had begun.

    So, I'm thinking it really is time for a re-watch of this film.

  2. I would think that this film, if watched for Grace Kelly, would probably be disappointing. Though she does have some good moments. :-D If you do revisit, let me know what you think!