After being discredited as a coward, a 19th century seaman lives for only one purpose: to redeem himself.
_**Lawrence of the Jungle**_ In the late 1800s, a gallant officer in the English merchant service (Peter O'Toole) falls prey to cowardice in a weak moment and is ousted to drift from job to job until he is inspired to help a Southeast Asian village purge a cruel general (Eli Wallach), hoping for redemption. The peripheral cast includes Paul Lukas, Jack Hawkins, Curd Jürgens, Daliah Lavi and James Mason. Richard Brooks’ “Lord Jim” (1965) is heavily boiled-down from the superfluous prose of Joseph Conrad's 1900 novel and comes across as overly sentimental and melodramatic. The fictitious village of Patusan is located in Malaysia in the book where the population is largely Muslim while in the movie, which was made in 1964 when the Vietnam situation was escalating, Patusan is deftly moved several hundred miles north to mainland Southeast Asia where the population is Buddhist. At its heart, this is an exploration of the negative effects of fear and the thin line between cowardice and heroism, which is reminiscent of “They Came to Cordora” (1959), but with the setting and general tone of “The Ugly American” (1963), albeit 60+ years in the past. With O’Toole playing a character that helps a ragtag group of idealist indigenous people you can’t help but think of “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962) transferred to the jungle. But “Lord Jim” comes across awkward and boring by comparison, not to mention more old-fashioned even though it’s newer by a few years. The ending is questionably done and leaves a bad taste. On the positive side, some elements are well done, even artistic, and clearly influenced Coppola’s outstanding “Apocalypse Now” (1979). The movie runs 2 hours, 34 minutes, and was shot in Lantau Island, Hong Kong; Angkor Wat, Cambodia; and Malacca, Malaysia. Studio work was done at Shepperton Studios, Surrey, England. GRADE: C