The Film: Shout at the Devil (1976)
The Principles: Directed by Peter R. Hunt. Written by Stanley Price and Alistair Reed. Based off the novel by Wilbur Smith. Acted by Lee Marvin, Roger Moore, Ian Holm, Barbara Parkins, Reinhard Kolldehoff and Horst Janson.
The Premise: An Irish-American drunkard (Marvin) and a stuffy British aristocrat (Moore) in the year 1913 decide to kill some elephants in German East Africa so they can smuggle out some ivory. When that doesn’t work out so well for them, they become Men of Adventure and stake out their place in history as a mixture of Robin Hood and Indiana Jones with a little Bender from Futurama thrown in for good measure.
Is It Good? No. But it is awesome. Shout at the Devil is big, dumb, racist, misogynistic escapist fun. I hated this film for the first hour and couldn’t believe there was still another 90 minutes to go, but by the closing credits I had a huge smile on my face. Imagine The Man Who Would Be King without any likable characters or Temple of Doom if Indy had kept the Sivalinga stone at the end. Loving this film is like loving your Grandfather, even though sometimes he drops the “N” word at Christmas. I hate myself for being entertained by this colonialist piece of propaganda, but I unabashedly do. This shit is old-school in a way that we can totally be glad isn’t the new-school, but still appreciate it for having giant, Lee Marvin-style balls. Again, Grandpa rocked WW2 and then came home and made sure your mom or dad existed just to top it all off, so you have to cut him some slack even though he can sometimes be creepy and awful and if he was another old guy you might tell him to fuck himself.
There are a thousand horrible contrivances that only exist to set up the next action scene. Ian Holm gives a performance so broad and mugging, it’s almost as offensive as the fact that he’s playing an African named Mohammad. Lee Marvin thinks he’s still in Cat Ballou. Roger Moore is so stiff, proper and detached, you’d think he was playing Bond. The German villain is straight out of anti-German comic books from the 40’s and 50’s. Each of these little things add up and make this giant, 150 minute lumbering mess. The problem is that the film also has Lee Marvin fighting an alligator, Ian Holm giving a very funny performance without saying a word the entire time, a fist fight that almost equals the length and brutality of They Live’s legendary showstopper and a few set pieces that are truly thrilling over 30 years later. Oh, and Roger Moore goes full black face. Just in case you were wondering.
Is It Worth A Look?: It depends. Do you like movies? THEN YES!! I can truly say I’ve never seen a movie like this in my life. At 150 minutes it rolls by without ever feeling slow for a second. The movie is trash, but it’s well made trash that is a piece of film history you need to check off your list.
Random Anecdotes: Director Peter R. Hunt edited Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger and directed On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (my personal favorite Bond film).
This movie caught a lot of shit on release for choosing to shoot in South Africa under apartheid.
Roger Moore starts (or continues depending on who you ask) his streak of playing much younger men than he should be by constantly being referred to as “the young man” even though he was 47 at the time of filming.
Cinematic Soulmates: The Man Who Would Be King, They Live, Bridge on the River Kwai, The Dirty Dozen, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Soul Man, Birth of a Nation.