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Dark of the Sun
Directed by Jack Cardiff
Produced by George Englund
Written by Wilbur Smith (novel)
Ranald MacDougall (as Quentin Werty)
Adrien Spies
Starring Rod Taylor
Yvette Mimieux
Jim Brown
Peter Carsten
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) July 3, 1968
Running time 100 minutes
Country  United States
Language English

Dark of the Sun (also known as The Mercenaries) is a 1968 adventure film starring Rod Taylor, Yvette Mimieux, Jim Brown and Peter Carsten and adapted from Wilbur Smith's 1965 novel, The Dark of the Sun. It tells of a band of mercenaries sent on a dangerous mission during the Congo Crisis.

Contents

Plot summary

In 1960, mercenary Bruce Curry (Rod Taylor) is hired by Congolese President Ubi (Calvin Lockhart) supposedly to rescue the white residents of an isolated town about to be attacked by rebel Simbas, but in reality to retrieve diamonds stored there. Curry's subordinates include his friend Ruffo (Jim Brown), racist ex-Nazi Henlein (Peter Carsten) and alcoholic Doctor Wreid (Kenneth More).

On the way to the town, Curry rescues Claire (Yvette Mimieux). Meanwhile, Henlein disapproves of Curry's leadership, leading to a memorable (if inconclusive) chainsaw duel. However, when the mercenaries reach their destination, there are complications. First, the diamonds are stored in a vault that will only open at a certain time, forcing them to wait. Also, a pregnant woman urgently needs Dr. Wreid's help. Wreid refuses to abandon his patient, so Curry is forced to leave him behind. Finally, the vault opens and the diamonds are loaded on a train, along with the residents, just as the Simbas attack. The rebels manage to uncouple the coach with the diamonds and some of the residents, but the rest of the train gets away.

Curry and Ruffo lead a raid to retrieve the diamonds and get away in some vehicles. When they run low on gas, Curry leaves to find some. In his absence, Henlein kills Ruffo in the mistaken belief that he has the diamonds, then flees. Curry returns and finds his friend dead. Thirsting for revenge, he pursues Henlein and kills him.

Production

In the German version, Curry was renamed Willy Krüger and was portrayed as a former Wehrmacht officer who had already clashed with Henlein during World War II because of the latter's fanatical Nazism. The German version also cuts the scene where Henlein murders two Congolese children and is misleadingly entitled Katanga, implying the film takes place during the first Congo emergency in 1961-64, when mercenaries like Müller and 'Mad' Mike Hoare were involved. In fact, the film takes place during the Simba revolt of 1964-65, when mercenaries were recruited by the Congo government to fight a leftist insurgency.[1]

The Henlein character was based on Siegfried Müller, a German mercenary who fought in the Congo wearing the Iron Cross that he earned during World War II. Mueller was featured in a 1966 East German-made documentary Der Lachende Mann (The Laughing Man).

The film was made in Jamaica to take advantage of a working steam train as well as safety and cost effectiveness.[2]

The film's score was composed by Jacques Loussier.

Reception

The film was considered extremely violent for its time and the scene of the civilians being raped and tortured by delirious Simbas can still shock. One contemporary reviewer was moved to comment that the director's main objective appeared to be to pack as much sadistic violence into the film's two hours as he could. On the subject of violence director Jack Cardiff commented: "Although it was a very violent story, the actual violence happening in the Congo at that time was much more than I could show in my film; in my research I encountered evidence so revolting I was nauseated. The critics complained of the violent content, but today it would hardly raise an eyebrow."[3]

Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino are two of the film's fans. Scorsese calls the film one of his 'guilty pleasures'[3]. The film was a particular influence on Tarantino, who is using several tracks from the score for his movie Inglourious Basterds, which features Rod Taylor in a guest role as Winston Churchill.

References

  1. ^ Mike Hoare Congo Mercenary 1967
  2. ^ Cardiff, Jack & Scorsese, Martin Magic Hour Faber & Faber 1997
  3. ^ a b ""Dark of the Sun" / "The Mercenaries" (1968)". August 1967 Photoplay (at rodtaylorsite.com). http://www.rodtaylorsite.com/darkofthesun.shtml.  

External links








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