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Monday, May 23, 2011

You'll Never See This Again: Too Late The Hero

I love great action scenes. Here is a classic from Robert Aldrich's Too Late the Hero from 1970. In it an exhausted Cliff Robertson and Michael Caine have to run across an open field to get back to the British base while the Japanese try to gun them down. Aldrich shoots this scene perfectly. It looks like no matter how fast the two of them run they can't get any closer. The music builds. The soldiers at the base cheer them on. There's plenty of gunfire and explosions. It's one of the great action finales in my book. (The fun really begins around the 1:30 mark)

And it will never be done again. Why? Look at the scene again. You never see the actors' faces once they start running. That turns out to be very important towards the end and gives the scene that added bit of suspense. There's no other way to really film or write this scene. But that's just not allowed anymore. Stars cost too much money and if you're going to pay the big bucks you'd better get as many closeups as you can. Closeups would ruin this sequence in my opinion. The fact that you can't tell who's who is just too critical.

Now maybe a lower budget film like a direct to DVD or a SyFy original movie might be able to get away with a sequence like this. The question is why don't they?

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