"Hurricane" is a $20-million wreck. It also confirms producer Dino De Laurentiis as the movie world's least astute remaker of '30s classics. Compared to this Chinese firedrill, his superfluous "King Kong" was at least an A Production.
The movies packaged by De Laurentiis since his arrival in the United States have often looked disorganized and unassimilated. For example, "The Brink's Job" had the texture of a '50s Italian comedy like "Big Deal on Madonna Street" despite its American subject, setting and cast. The few who sampled it treasure "King of the Gypsies" for its nutty band of gypsies-Shelley Winters, Sterling Hayden, Judd Hirsch, Susan Sarandon, Brooke Shields, et al.
"Hurricane" is the goofiest De Laurentiis mixer yet, convened for several months of futilely expensive shooting on Bora Bora (perhaps an illomended phonetic choice), where the producer even built a new hotel, managed by his daughter, to try to keep the international cast and crew happy.
Someone in authority should have gotten unhappy fast with Lorenzo Semple Jr.'s screenplay. Throwing out the Stirring South Seas adventure yarn invented by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall and filmed with vivid fidelity by John Ford in 1937, Semple substitutes a laughable account of tempestuous, taboo passion between a dowdy white heroine, played by Mia Farrow, and the young native hunk who finds her inexplicably alluring.
In the original novel and film the lovers were a Polynesian match, the noble, unjustly imprisoned Terangi and his beautiful, faithful wife Marama. Reunited when Terangi engineers his most daring jailbreak and returns from Tahiti to their native island in the Tuamotos, the lovers survive a hurricane that ironically provides Terangi with the opportunity to vindicate himeself with the authorities.
Semple changes the authorities from French to American and depicts them as sneering racists. The most egregious sneering racist of them all is Jason Robards, sporting an ugly scar on his upper lip and glaring demended daggers, as the naval administrator on Pago Pago, circa 1920. Farrow, his colorless child, arrives on the island biting her knuckles in girlish anticipation and dripping wet from the first of several warm-up downpours. Perhaps spoiled by all the voluptuous native feminity at his disposal, the young chieftain Matangi. played by Dayton Ka'Ne, a surfer kid from Hawaii, gets a yen for the scrawny new paleface.
At 34, Mia Farrow is not exactly ready for rocking-chair roles, but she is also a decade or so too old to be playing supposedly serious love matches with someone who looks young enough to be her son. The plot of the remake hinges on Robards' ruthless determination to prevent true love from being consummated, but audiences are bound to find this affair unsuitable on the devastating grounds that it looks ridiculous.
It's not as if one were asking for Garbo and Gilbert or even Dorothy Lamour and Jon Hall, who played the lovers in Ford's film. The incompatibility of Farrow and Ka'Ne blows "Hurricane" before the climactic storm comes up.
Regrettably, Jan Troell, the director of "The Emigrants" and "The New Land," ended up supervising this dotty remake for De Laurentiis and he isn't the only reputable filmmaker staggering around in the dark on this occasion. On past performances it's difficult to credit the myopic, woozy cinematography to Sven Nykvist or the piddling "exotic" score to Nino Rota (evidently composing for broken native guitars and warped pianos) or the hectic cutting to Sam O'Steen.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, 13 minutes of "Hurricane" were swept away after a preview audience in San Francisco laughed the picture off the screen.Those first-nighters will have an entertaining story to tell moviegoing friends in the future: "We saw the uncut De Laurentiis 'Hurricane.'"
Come to think of it, a number of recent films-"A Perfect Couple," "The Promise," "The Passage," "Quintet," "Ice Castles," etc., etc.-can be recommended only as idiotic delights. "Hurricane" ought to be the last word in grandiose ineptitude, but it's probably just the beginning. CAPTION: Picture, Dayton Ka'Ne and Mia Farrow