Guns of Darkness


1h 42m 1962
Guns of Darkness

Brief Synopsis

A businessman and his wife are caught in the turmoil of a South American revolution.

Film Details

Also Known As
Act of Mercy
Genre
Drama
Thriller
Political
Release Date
Jan 1962
Premiere Information
New York opening: 17 Aug 1962
Production Company
Associated British Productions, Ltd.; Cavalcade Films
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures
Country
United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Act of Mercy by Francis Clifford (London, 1959).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Synopsis

On New Year's Eve in the Latin American state of Tribulacion, the government of President Rivera is overthrown by revolutionary military forces. Wounded, Rivera escapes and is found the next day in a state of collapse by Tom Jordan, an immature idealist whose failure to hold a job has led to marital difficulties with his wife, Claire. Jordan decides he is morally bound to help Rivera reach the border 80 miles away, and Claire reluctantly agrees to accompany them on the journey. After a number of close calls with the police, they lose their car in a lake of quicksand and are forced to proceed by foot across rocky mountain terrain. They reach the border and are captured and taken into custody. At this point Claire tells Tom that she is pregnant. Despite his abhorrence of violence, Tom kills a guard with a corkscrew in order to get himself, Claire, and Rivera across the border. Although Rivera is beyond medical help, he dies knowing that Tom now understands it is sometimes necessary to kill in order to live. Wiser and more mature, Tom is able to effect a reconciliation with Claire.

Film Details

Also Known As
Act of Mercy
Genre
Drama
Thriller
Political
Release Date
Jan 1962
Premiere Information
New York opening: 17 Aug 1962
Production Company
Associated British Productions, Ltd.; Cavalcade Films
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures
Country
United Kingdom
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Act of Mercy by Francis Clifford (London, 1959).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Articles

Guns of Darkness


By the 1960s, the world had become quite used to news of frequent coups d'etat in developing nations, particularly those of Latin America, known by the derogatory term "banana republics." Woody Allen would later parody the political turmoil in his comedy Bananas (1971), but a decade earlier, this British release would take a serious approach to the subject.

Based on Francis Clifford's novel An Act of Mercy and adapted for the screen by John Mortimer (Bunny Lake Is Missing, 1965), this British suspense drama finds a married couple, played by Leslie Caron and David Niven, trapped in a fictional South American country during one such coup. Quite by accident, the couple becomes embroiled in helping the former president escape before he is caught and publicly executed. The president is played by American character actor David Opatoshu, best known around this time for his work in Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain (1966) and Otto Preminger's Exodus (1960).

The novel's title was actually closer to the drama's theme, but it was likely changed to capitalize on the success of Niven's earlier film, the blockbuster war adventure The Guns of Navarone (1961), co-starring Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn.

Caron made her first mark as a featured dancer with the Ballet des Champs-Elysees in Paris, where she was discovered by Gene Kelly and given the co-starring role in the Oscar-winning musical An American in Paris (1951). Her early successes were in musicals, among them Lili (1953) and Gigi (1958), but by this point in her career she was making the transition into more dramatic roles, notably in Joshua Logan's Fanny (1961), with Maurice Chevalier and Charles Boyer.

As the manager of a sugar plantation thrust into a deadly situation, Niven delivers a multi-faceted performance as a man with alcohol and marital problems, distinctly apolitical and apparently heedless of the feelings of others, who taps into a heroic, humanitarian side in the arduous effort to smuggle the deposed ruler across the border. Along the way, Niven regains the love and respect of his wife.

Oddly, although Niven had been in films for 30 years at this point and won a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance in Separate Tables (1958), he was given second billing to Caron on this production.

English actor Derek Godfrey was cast as a Che Guevara-like revolutionary, but for greater authenticity he was dubbed by Roger Delgado, also London born but the son of a Spanish father and French mother.

The film was directed by venerable English director Anthony Asquith (Pygmalion, 1938; The Importance of Being Earnest, 1952) and shot by Robert Krasker, the Academy Award-winning cinematographer of The Third Man (1949). Their work stands out in the film's most tense sequence as the couple's car becomes caught in a quicksand bog.

Editor Frederick Wilson must have picked up some skills here in cutting a picture for suspense. A few years later, he would receive two Academy Award nominations in a single year for the thrillers Arabesque (1966) and The Quiller Memorandum (1966).

The picture was partially shot in Malaga, Spain, standing in for the strife-torn South American country. The rest was filmed at England's Elstree Studios .

Director: Anthony Asquith
Producer: Thomas Clyde
Screenplay: John Mortimer, based on the novel An Act of Mercy by Francis Clifford
Cinematography: Robert Krasker
Editing: Frederick Wilson
Art Direction: John Howell
Music: Benjamin Frankel
Cast: Leslie Caron (Claire Jordan), David Niven (Tom Jordan), James Robertson Justice (Hugo Bryant), David Opatoshu (President Rivera), Derek Godfrey (Hernandez)

By Rob Nixon
Guns Of Darkness

Guns of Darkness

By the 1960s, the world had become quite used to news of frequent coups d'etat in developing nations, particularly those of Latin America, known by the derogatory term "banana republics." Woody Allen would later parody the political turmoil in his comedy Bananas (1971), but a decade earlier, this British release would take a serious approach to the subject. Based on Francis Clifford's novel An Act of Mercy and adapted for the screen by John Mortimer (Bunny Lake Is Missing, 1965), this British suspense drama finds a married couple, played by Leslie Caron and David Niven, trapped in a fictional South American country during one such coup. Quite by accident, the couple becomes embroiled in helping the former president escape before he is caught and publicly executed. The president is played by American character actor David Opatoshu, best known around this time for his work in Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain (1966) and Otto Preminger's Exodus (1960). The novel's title was actually closer to the drama's theme, but it was likely changed to capitalize on the success of Niven's earlier film, the blockbuster war adventure The Guns of Navarone (1961), co-starring Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn. Caron made her first mark as a featured dancer with the Ballet des Champs-Elysees in Paris, where she was discovered by Gene Kelly and given the co-starring role in the Oscar-winning musical An American in Paris (1951). Her early successes were in musicals, among them Lili (1953) and Gigi (1958), but by this point in her career she was making the transition into more dramatic roles, notably in Joshua Logan's Fanny (1961), with Maurice Chevalier and Charles Boyer. As the manager of a sugar plantation thrust into a deadly situation, Niven delivers a multi-faceted performance as a man with alcohol and marital problems, distinctly apolitical and apparently heedless of the feelings of others, who taps into a heroic, humanitarian side in the arduous effort to smuggle the deposed ruler across the border. Along the way, Niven regains the love and respect of his wife. Oddly, although Niven had been in films for 30 years at this point and won a Best Actor Academy Award for his performance in Separate Tables (1958), he was given second billing to Caron on this production. English actor Derek Godfrey was cast as a Che Guevara-like revolutionary, but for greater authenticity he was dubbed by Roger Delgado, also London born but the son of a Spanish father and French mother. The film was directed by venerable English director Anthony Asquith (Pygmalion, 1938; The Importance of Being Earnest, 1952) and shot by Robert Krasker, the Academy Award-winning cinematographer of The Third Man (1949). Their work stands out in the film's most tense sequence as the couple's car becomes caught in a quicksand bog. Editor Frederick Wilson must have picked up some skills here in cutting a picture for suspense. A few years later, he would receive two Academy Award nominations in a single year for the thrillers Arabesque (1966) and The Quiller Memorandum (1966). The picture was partially shot in Malaga, Spain, standing in for the strife-torn South American country. The rest was filmed at England's Elstree Studios . Director: Anthony Asquith Producer: Thomas Clyde Screenplay: John Mortimer, based on the novel An Act of Mercy by Francis Clifford Cinematography: Robert Krasker Editing: Frederick Wilson Art Direction: John Howell Music: Benjamin Frankel Cast: Leslie Caron (Claire Jordan), David Niven (Tom Jordan), James Robertson Justice (Hugo Bryant), David Opatoshu (President Rivera), Derek Godfrey (Hernandez) By Rob Nixon

Guns of Darkness -


Veteran British director Anthony Asquith is noted for his expressive silent films, and prestige classics like Pygmalion (1938) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1952). In his later years, he made several films about modern violence. Asquith's Two Living, One Dead (1961) is a drama about a man who offers no resistance to a robbery. 1962's Guns of Darkness is from Francis Clifford's novel Act of Mercy, adapted by John Mortimer. Star David Niven is Tom Jordan, a public relations man for a British-owned plantation in the South American country of Tribulacíon. An 'idealist without convictions,' Tom's marriage to Claire (Leslie Caron) is on shaky ground due to his inability to hold onto his job. When a revolution breaks out, the deposed and wounded President Rivera (David Opatoshu) flees for his life, and Tom feels obligated to help him escape. Claire has little choice but to flee with them. They slip through roadblocks in a series of harrowing trials that include the loss of their car in a huge quicksand pit. They must hike to the frontier, where Tom finds himself forced to either use deadly violence or admit defeat. Reviewers found Asquith's suspenseful movie weakened by the choice of David Niven as the initially weak and indecisive husband. Unlike Grahame Green's tales of idealistic Brits away from home, Tom's problem is less spiritual than it is practical. The moral that 'the greater good sometimes requires violence' falls flat, as the stakes are quickly reduced to simple survival. It was also felt that the film reflected current politics both in front of and behind the camera. The Franco government granted Asquith permission to shoot in Malaga, with the firm demand that the film's locale be clearly established as someplace other than Spain. More than one reviewer noted that David Niven's main rebel nemesis is made to look like Fidel Castro, beard and all.

By Glenn Erickson

Guns of Darkness -

Veteran British director Anthony Asquith is noted for his expressive silent films, and prestige classics like Pygmalion (1938) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1952). In his later years, he made several films about modern violence. Asquith's Two Living, One Dead (1961) is a drama about a man who offers no resistance to a robbery. 1962's Guns of Darkness is from Francis Clifford's novel Act of Mercy, adapted by John Mortimer. Star David Niven is Tom Jordan, a public relations man for a British-owned plantation in the South American country of Tribulacíon. An 'idealist without convictions,' Tom's marriage to Claire (Leslie Caron) is on shaky ground due to his inability to hold onto his job. When a revolution breaks out, the deposed and wounded President Rivera (David Opatoshu) flees for his life, and Tom feels obligated to help him escape. Claire has little choice but to flee with them. They slip through roadblocks in a series of harrowing trials that include the loss of their car in a huge quicksand pit. They must hike to the frontier, where Tom finds himself forced to either use deadly violence or admit defeat. Reviewers found Asquith's suspenseful movie weakened by the choice of David Niven as the initially weak and indecisive husband. Unlike Grahame Green's tales of idealistic Brits away from home, Tom's problem is less spiritual than it is practical. The moral that 'the greater good sometimes requires violence' falls flat, as the stakes are quickly reduced to simple survival. It was also felt that the film reflected current politics both in front of and behind the camera. The Franco government granted Asquith permission to shoot in Malaga, with the firm demand that the film's locale be clearly established as someplace other than Spain. More than one reviewer noted that David Niven's main rebel nemesis is made to look like Fidel Castro, beard and all. By Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Copyright length: 95 min. Produced in Great Britain, with location shooting in Spain. The working title of this film is Act of Mercy.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1962

Released in United States 1962