After a screening of The Brothers Grimm, I asked Terry Gilliam what Matt Damon’s memorable appearance in that film (in a curly blonde wig) reminded him of; Gilliam suggested Doug McClure, and once you see the resemblance, it’s impossible to un-see. McClure was a celebrated tv star who graduated to creature-features like The Land That Time Forgot and At the Earth’s Core; this 1975 film lacks monsters, and is a comedy-drama curio which was promptly the subject of a global amnesia until it made an unheralded return on Amazon Prime this week, complete with a mis-spelled title.
Also known as The Bananas Boat, this adaptation of a novel by John Harris seems to be going for African Queen toughness, but rarely touches competence. Yet if you’re keen to get a look at McClure’s bare backside, then you’re in luck, since his porcelain-white keyster is unveiled on at least three separate occasions.
McClure plays Charley Farthing, a womanising adventurer whose adventures with some unnamed banana republic (Cuba presumably) were filmed in Spain but can be universally understood as racist. Most of the film is spent discussing finding ways round the anti-American customs rules of this unnamed country, an obsession with detail which makes for a tiresome watch. There’s eccentric support from Lionel Jeffries (Grampa Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) Hayley Mills and Warren Mitchell, the latter dressed in a kilt, tartan tammy and not much else. There’s lots of location work, suggesting that everyone was more concerned with topping up their tans than making a good film.
In nearly half-a-century, Sidney Hayers’ film has so far garnered a total of one review from the public and no critical reviews at all on the imdb page; there’s a good reason for that, and the reason is that this film is truly awful; a repository of awful attitudes, macho bragging and tiresome sitting-on-a-cactus comedy that has to be seen to be believed. Unless McClure’s backside is your thing, there’s not much worth seeing in their limp slice of scallywag behaviour, a film that could lower the temperature in any room.