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The Fourth War (1990)

fourth warIf you grew up in the shadow of Jaws like yours truly then just like me you pretty much think Roy Scheider was one of the coolest guys on the planet during his leading man run. Here Scheider re-unites with director John Frankenheimer for the second time having previously worked together on the rather sleazy thriller 52 Pick-Up. Joining them this time out is the always solid Jurgen Prochnow of Das Boot fame.

For this effort Scheider is a highly decorated Colonel who has outlived his usefulness and is sent to commandeer an outpost along the Czech border during the cold war. Just across the fence is another highly decorated Russian officer played by Prochnow. Both men yearn for simpler times when they were fighting for something on the battlefield and not exiled to playing border guards. The easiest way to solve that problem is to engage in a game of cat and mouse where they quietly invade each others territory and wreak havoc on the other. It becomes personal. Harry Dean Stanton as Scheider’s confidante General isn’t too pleased and quickly lays the law down to cease and desist. Always a pleasure to see Stanton on screen but playing a General is a little odd for Harry although he shines when giving Scheider a proper dressing down. Rounding out the cast is Tim Reid of WKRP fame. The give and take between our aging warriors provides the highlights for the film including a neutral ground brawl backed up by a highly armed military force on each side of the border. A Mexican stand off if you will. Both Scheider and Prochnow do well in their roles and even if the film isn’t a classic it has a good pedigree backed up by Frankenheimer as director who overall had a long and successful career dating back to the early 60’s making some top notch Burt Lancaster films, the 1962 Manchurian Candidate all the way up to Robert De Niro’s Ronin to name but a few. At a running time of 91 minutes it’s a great alternative to the cold weather outside this time of year.

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