In my quest to see all films with Richard Harris as well as Gene Hackman I finally got around to watching this Walter Mirisch epic length production. The film is a first class effort from not only the actors but the direction as well as the Oscar nominated cinematography on down. The script by Dalton Trumbo and Daniel Taradash is apparently a very condensed version of the James A. Michener novel.
The film belongs to Max Von Sydow as a Man of the Cloth who along with his new wife Julie Andrews goes to the famed island to bring the word of God to the uncivilized. This is where I must freely admit that the film becomes a bit of a chore for me as I am not fond of Von Sydow’s character or the arrogance and self righteousness that he displays on behalf of the church. The film more or less becomes a constant attempt at allowing Von Sydow to preach to the native heathens about God and that practically everything they do and believe in is sinful. Truthful or not this film does the church no favors. Andrews is eventually put off herself and has old flame Richard Harris to turn to if needed. Hackman is an island doctor who isn’t exactly enamored of the church’s position on the island either. From there the film becomes a fairly typical soap opera(ish) effort.
Aside from the plot points the film is well made with an Elmer Bernstein score. He had worked previously with producer Mirisch giving us the memorable theme to The Magnificent Seven. The director George Roy Hill does a fine job and went on to do the two Newman/Redford films, Butch & Sundance and The Sting. Also turning up is Carrol O’Connor before his iconic television role. Hawaii was nominated for seven Oscars including one for Jocelyne LeGarde in the Best Supporting Actress category.
So although the film is pretty to look at and makes me long for warmer weather I can’t say I liked it all that much but I can check off another Harris and Hackman film. Next time I want to see them share the screen together I think I’ll just re-watch Unforgiven.