Tuesday, April 7, 2015

TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING (1977)

As a child growing up in the early 80's I loved (and still love) those overly dramatic Cold War thrillers where America and the USSR nearly go to war or where Russia invades America.  I had hopes that TWILIGHT'S LAST GLEAMING was going to be such a film, but I quickly discovered that instead of those evil Ruskies being the bad guys it's actually Burt Lancaster!!!  It seems Burt was once a highly regarded soldier, but when he wouldn't shut up about the injustice of the Vietnam War the military "railroaded" him and threw him into prison on some bullshit charges.  Now he's escaped (before the beginning of the film...how lazy of the filmmakers) and quickly takes over a nuclear missile compound that houses nine missiles that are all aimed at Russia.

This set up could lead to all kinds of interest, edge-of-your-seat thrills like the Russians finding out about it and threatening to strike first or maybe some super exciting attempts at breaking into the control room.  But no, instead the Russians are barely even mentioned and the portrayal of the soldiers trying to get into the control looks like something out of a Apple Dumpling Gang movie!  Just to give you an idea of how bad it is: they have John "Cliff Clavin" Ratzenberger as one of the elite military dudes.  Yeah.

So that leaves us with the negotiations.  They're not too bad.  The heated confrontations between Lancaster and Richard Widmark are the highlight of the movie.  I also enjoyed listening to Joseph Cotten.  The others were passable.  And as far as Charles Durning as the United States President goes, he was good, but he's nowhere as impressive as Rock Hudson in the superior WORLD WAR III.

Overall TLG is an interesting historical timepiece, but it's kinda surprising this film was actually released in the theaters!  I have no idea how wide the release was (according to Wikipedia it lost money), but it honestly looks like a made-for-TV movie.  There are many "goofs" throughout the movie and the 2 1/2 hour running time is totally uncalled for with the material showed onscreen.

I am curious (Yellow) if Richard Widmark wore the exact same uniform a year later in THE SWARM?