Taken from Siegfried Lenz's dour allegorical novella about what you might do if Hitler arrived on your ship, Skolimowski's adaptation mercifully junks the more overt political dimension, and concentrates successfully on the suspense element, with sufficient metaphysical undercurrent for those who want it. Brandauer is the pacifist captain of a rusting lightship, anchored off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia in the '50s. When they rescue a drifting boat, the trio that come aboard prove to be a set of psychos, on the run to a rendezvous with their pickup boat. Their leader, a menacing dandy played by Duvall at his most wilfully extravagant, threatens to set the ship adrift, and backs it up with the cool logic that the devil always presents. Brandauer, however, continues in a kind of dumb, passive resistance. Fortunately, Skolimowski keeps the schematic struggle between good and evil sufficiently well submerged beneath an atmosphere of menace and increasing hostility, as the crew bicker and fall apart under ill-fated attempts at heroism, and Duvall enacts his increasingly bizarre übermensch tactics. If it puts you in mind of Key Largo, that is no bad thing. CPea.
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||William Mai, David Taylor|
Klaus Maria Brandauer