Offshore near Caboblanco, Peru, an explorer of sea wrecks is murdered. However, local authorities decide that the official cause of death is \"accidental drowning.\" Among the skeptical is Giff Hoyt (Charles Bronson), an expatriate American, longtime Caboblanco resident and popular innkeeper.
Giff\'s interest is further piqued when Marie (Dominique Sanda) arrives in town. Her passport is confiscated by the corrupt authority (Fernando Rey), and Giff protests. Furthermore, a Nazi named Beckdorff (Jason Robards) lives in a well-fortified compound near town, and he might be responsible for the explorer\'s death. Beckdorff himself seeks sunken treasure in the area, as well as protection from local interference.
Can Giff Hoyt stifle the evil Beckdorff, save the lovely Marie, and possibly even locate sunken treasure?
Charles Bronson ... Gifford Hoyt
Jason Robards ... Gunther Beckdorff
Dominique Sanda ... Marie Claire Allesandri
Fernando Rey ... Police Captain Terredo
Simon MacCorkindale ... Lewis Clarkson
Camilla Sparv ... Hera
Gilbert Roland ... Dr. Rudolfo Ramirez
Denny Miller ... Horst
James Booth ... John Baker
Jorge Russek ... Provincial Minister
Clifton James ... Lorrimer
Ernest Esparza III ... Pepe (as Ernest Esparza)
José Chávez ... Bustamante
I gave this film an extra two points for the location alone.
The gorgeous coastal town used in Caboblanco was in fact once a favorite retreat of members of a corrupt Mexican regime. The deluxe hilltop mansion, the thatched hotel-bar that Bronson\'s character runs, palapas lined up at the water\'s edge, a bare-bones, dingy police office, and so forth: you can\'t ask for a more convincing backdrop for this tale of international skullduggery.
Caboblanco also gets points for Bronson\'s spot-on portrayal of an ex-pate living in Mexico because he probably can\'t go home, the complex and riveting performance by Fernando Rey, and for filling out the cast with several supporting players in a non-linear presentation. There is a denouement at the end, but the film\'s mood and pacing are not obvious in working to that conclusion. In other words, Caboblanco succeeds in making a viewer feel he/she is eavesdropping on lives in progress.
Admittedly, this is a piece of entertainment, but it strives for something more, and it is NOT an imitation of Casablanca, by a long shot.
My one complaint is that the great Gilbert Roland was not used to more advantage.
„Caboblanco\" is not a bad movie, but you can easily divide its strengths and weaknesses. Fernando Rey and Jason Robards are the strongest actors. They both deliver great performances as they usually do. Charles Bronson does a solid job too. I think that he is often underrated as an actor, because of the decent quality of most of his movies. J. Lee Thompson directs this one in classy old-school-manner that could have produced a far better movie in case the script would have been above average, which it is not. The cinematography, the photography and the choice of locations are truly first rate. And J. Lee Thompson had the spirit and the feel of a director. He was born to do, what he did.
Most of the supporting actors are pretty cool as well. But Dominique Sanda was a miscast. Her wooden and strangely impersonal acting did confuse me from the very beginning. She seems to be completely lost in nearly every scene and any suggestions of mystery to her character are not convincing at all. The chemistry between her and Cliff (Charles Bronson) doesn\'t work out at all and that\'s a pity, because everything else and everybody else seem so carefully chosen.
But the main point to criticize is the script. It delivers some nice ideas, but too many loose ends and open questions. Why do scuba divers let the submarine explode that obvious, though they must have known, that the wreck was not the one everybody\'s looking for? Why did they kill the fisherman, who was diving for oysters for centuries? How come that Cliff was perfectly placed to rescue him, when the British agent Lewis was trying to escape through the jungle? These plot holes do not fit to an excellent script, which only could lead to an excellent movie. It\'s a pity, because Caboblanco already got many fine ingredients: competent actors, a perfect score by Jerry Goldsmith, marvelous locations and a stunning cinematography! In the end it\'s only a decent action flick worth watching once for fans of Charles Bronson and/or J. Lee Thompson.
It\'s interesting to realize that the theatrical version of \"Caboblanco\" shown in Argentina is 15 minutes (!) longer than the one we watch nowadays in the US or Europe on DVD. My whole impression of the movie might have been influenced by the fact that it was heavily cut, which seems to be possible as soon I think of those \"plot holes\" I already mentioned. I think it\'s necessary to get that uncut 102 minute print to be published as soon as possible.
Director J. Lee Thompson and actor Charles Bronson always made an interesting team, and this particular effort was the last one I needed to see. Compared with most of their collaborations in the 80s, this is a diamond in the rough and quite an off-kilter, old-fashion adventure / mystery story that sets out to be intriguing and creates a nice feel of the times, than anything relying on Bronson handing out nasty punishment. Well on that point, the violence when it does eventuate is surprisingly brutal, if quick and too the point. When it happens, it comes from nowhere. However Bronson is given a chance to spread his wings, and act with confidence and stalwart appeal. It\'s a terrifically surly, down-played performance by Chuck in a suitable heroine role. Working off Bronson is a tremendously solid cast. Jason Robards\' is subtly powerful in a fine turn and Fernando Rey\'s sly style always amuses. Dominique Sanda displays a potently classy presence. The support cast rounding it off are just as good with Simon Mac Corkindale, Dennis Millar, Clifton James and Camilla Sparv.
Looming from the presentation is a film-noir tone, and I don\'t really get the \'Casablanca\' references (from it being a rip-off to an unfunny spoof) made about it. There\'s no denying it\'s rather talky though, but the script is involving and smartly weaved together. This works due to the screenplay having a busy (if muddled) plot and still keeping a breezy (almost brooding) air to it. Some contrived, and convenient actions occur, and the drama can seem a little uncertain. But it never becomes a worry. Also how they used the breathtakingly erotic Mexican backdrop in the action was accordingly staged and well-framed. Talk about nice sight seeing. The swirling, wide-screen camera-work had that ability to capture that organic sense of place, although the underwater shots came off terribly murky. Thompson\'s direction is undoubtedly workman-like, slow and effective on a much larger scale, despite the dreary look to its visual styling. Jerry Goldsmith\'s rousing melancholic score is picture-perfect. Everything boils up to an thrilling climax, as the calmness makes way for a stormy (literally) confrontations of two men, who share something in common, but how they go about things are entirely different. They have a past they like to forget, and this is their chance for that to happen and put away that lingering fear of something catching up.
One of Bronson\'s interestingly obscure oddities, which unjustly flopped and deserves an audience.
Caboblanco is a really, really bad film, that loses many points for its feeble attempts to evoke the classic \"Casablanca\". I feel sorry for Jason Robards and Bronson, both of whom give decent performances on this film\'s lousy script. I\'m sorry, but the story of various low lifes and politicos vieing over suken treasure (with a crappy romance sub-plot thrown in for good measure) cannot compete with Casablanca\'s story of sacrificing love for the greater good. Also, this film lacks Casablanca\'s wonderful supporting cast and great dialogue. Judged by itself, this film is paced far too slowly, and too little occurs. The ending, though, is what mainly draws my ire-\"I put a bomb in the jukebox\" indeed! Avoid.