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The Hell With Heroes (1968)

Rod Taylor plays Brynie MacKay, a war hero turned cynical pilot-of-fortune in this action-romance based in North Africa just after WWII.

Brynie and his partner, Mike Brewer (Peter Deuel), are former ace flyboys adventuring in an Africa that's in its last throes of anti-colonialist turmoil. The idealistic Mike and the cynical Brynie live an uncomplicated life, running an air-freight company in North Africa. They spend long days on the beach, and their nights are filled with nightclubs and belly dancers.

Trouble starts after they accept an ill-advised job to transport goods for black-marketeer Lee Harris (Harry Guardino).

After being framed by Harris for transporting drugs, Brynie's plane is impounded. He cuts a deal with Harris to get the plane back, but it involves flying more crooked missions. On one of the missions, Harris kills Mike, bringing violence and emotion to a head. Kevin McCarthy, a repeated co-star of Rod's, plays an Army intelligence officer.

Amid the danger, Brynie begins an affair with Elana (Claudia Cardinale), the bad guy's mistress. The bond between Brynie and Elana goes well beyond their physical attraction -- even though there's plenty of that.

Brynie and Elena are both damaged souls, courtesy of the war. The scenes between Cardinale and Taylor are beautifully crafted and well-acted, conveying the complicated nature of their relationship.

The movie was directed by Joseph Sargent, whose distinguished career featured extensive work in television (he won four Emmys). Prior to "The Hell with Heroes," his movie directing experience had involved two films that grew out of  episodes of "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." Later, Sargent would earn acclaim on the big screen with "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" and disdain because of "Jaws: The Revenge" (aka "Jaws 4").

Also notable is that the film score was composed by Quincy Jones, along with the song "Where There is Love" that closes the movie.

"The Hell with Heroes" garnered lukewarm reviews and very little money at the box office.

A reviewer in the Fort Lauderdale News captured its positive qualities (Sept. 19, 1968):

"The Hell With Heroes" starts out as an ordinary little adventure piece, but picks up interest as it moves rather rapidly into the sterner drama of a man's inner conflict. ... It combines a very personal story with some suspenseful action, and Rod Taylor proves once again that he is superior to his material.

The plot is pulp-fiction good guys and bad guys material, but Taylor is a much more sensitive and feeling actor than his scripts usually foretell. ... Few actors today can match Taylor's virility and talent.

 

 

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LINKS

IMDb // Wikipedia

Pressbook items (PDF)

Two reviews (PDF)

Turner Classic Movies

The Hell with Heroes, in narrative form (Screen Stories, September 1968) at the Alias Smith & Jones Collection

 

VIEWER'S GUIDE

Never released on VHS or DVD. Recordings of it are from TV airings decades ago.

Entire movie on the
Pete Duel Memorial Site

DVD available at iOffer

 

         
   

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