Arctic prospector Jack McCann, after fifteen years of solitary searching, becomes one of the world’s wealthiest men when he literally falls into a mountain of gold in 1925. Years later, in 1945, he lives in luxury on a Caribbean island that he owns. But his wealth brings him no peace of mind as he copes with Helen, his bored, alcoholic wife; Tracy, his dear, but headstrong, daughter who has married a dissolute, philandering social-climber; and Miami mobsters who want his island to build a casino. His life is entangled with the obsessions of those around him with greed, power, and debauchery against a background of occult symbolism.
Jerry Caplin <[email protected]>
User Reviews: Weird, sloppy, self-indulgent, meta-physical, sometimes boring, sometimes hallucinatory: all these things describe this misfire from director Nicolas Roeg. Gene Hackman stars as a gold prospector in Alaska during the final days of the gold rush. Most of the people have given up and gone home at this point, but Hackman refuses. After a strange encounter with a meteor (I think) he receives some kind of lucky rock (I think) that gives him the extra push to find his gold strike. And does he ever. Cut to decades later, and he’s fabulously wealthy, with a giant estate named Eureka. His grown daughter (Theresa Russell) has married a European playboy (Rutger Hauer) that dad doesn’t approve of. There’s also a shady consortium of some sort, headed by Jewish tough guy Joe Pesci (!) and represented by Italian lawyer Mickey Rourke (!), that needs Hackman’s financial backing for some new endeavor.
The cinematography is beautiful, as it usually is in Roeg’s films, but the plot is a mess of ham-handed symbolism and uninspired dramatics. The terrific cast, which also includes Ed Lauter, Joe Spinell and Corin Redgrave, is good, with Hackman the stand-out, as usual. Rourke looks scared and uncomfortable, which fits with his character, but he comes across more like he’s fully aware of how wrong he is in the role. Russell and Hauer are both beautiful, and they both spend much of the film in various states of undress. There’s also one of the most brutal, protracted murder scenes I’ve seen in a film in a long time. It’s starts off shocking, but becomes rather ludicrous the longer it’s dragged out. I can’t really recommend this film to anyone except Hackman fans or fans of bizarre obscurities.