Lord Jim (1965) – Richard Brooks

Peter O’Toole finds himself in yet another epic film, as I continue my exploration of the recommendations from the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book following my screening of Lawrence of Arabia.

Based on the novel by Joseph Conrad the film doesn’t have the same sweep and expanse that Arabia does, but it is fairly solidly entertaining, and packed with a very recognisable cast. Sharing the screen with O’Toole as the titular Lord Jim is James Mason, Eli Wallach, Curt Jurgens, Jack Hawkins and the lovely Daliah Lavi.

Despite the pedigree of cast and creative forces, the film ends up being a straight forward adventure film. After making a name for himself and being quickly promoted, Jim finds himself the executive officer on a ship. A broken foot puts him ashore, but he’s eager to get back to sea, and signs on with the Patina. During a storm, Jim is struck by fear that the ship is floundering and is going under, and abandons ship.

When he arrives back at port, there is the Patina, and Jim admits to the cowardice and begins the road to his own redemption.

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His course brings him to the jungle, and in to conflict with the dangerous General (Wallach), but also love with the Girl (Lavi).

Haunted by his split-second decision, Jim is driven fighting for a village, living for something, and trying to prove to himself and those who knew of his actions, that he isn’t a coward, but just a man.

When Gentleman Brown (Mason) and Cornelius (Jurgens), and memories of his past show up in his village, everything comes to a climax, and Jim must confront his past and his present to move forward with his own future, if he survives. Course this is based on a Conrad novel, so come to your own conclusions there.

The locations, China, Cambodia and Malaysia, all look gorgeous on screen, the jungles vibrant and verdant. The cast is exceptional, and I do like when Mason gets to take a turn at being a villain, even one who pretends to be as refined as Gentleman Brown.

This ended up being a fun and entertaining ride, allowing O’Toole another moment to shine as the conflicted Jim. A solid film, and another one that I had never heard of before I had come across this list, and it was a lot of fun to see such a stellar cast paired up with one another.

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