The Southern Star (film)

The Southern Star (French title: L'Étoile du sud) is a Technicolor 1969 British-French comedy crime film directed by Sidney Hayers and starring George Segal, Ursula Andress and Orson Welles.[1] In French West Africa in 1912, an extremely valuable diamond is stolen.[2]

The Southern Star
Directed bySidney Hayers
Produced byRoger Duchet
Nat Wachsberger
Screenplay byDavid Pursall
Jack Seddon
Based onThe Vanished Diamond
1884 novel
by Jules Verne
StarringGeorge Segal
Ursula Andress
Orson Welles
Ian Hendry
Johnny Sekka
Music byGeorges Garvarentz
CinematographyRaoul Coutard
Edited byTristam Cones
Production
company
Euro France Films
Capitole Films
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
1969
Running time
104 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom
France
LanguageEnglish

It was based on the novel The Vanished Diamond (French title L'Étoile du sud) by Jules Verne. The film's opening scenes were anonymously directed by Orson Welles - the last time he would direct scenes in another director's film.

Plot

In 1912 fortune hunter Dan Rockland (George Segal) comes to West Africa pretending to be a geologist. He is actually employed by Kramer (Harry Andrews), whose business is diamonds.

Kramer's workers discover a huge uncut gem. Rockland and his African companion, Matakit, go by train to bring the gem to Kramer. The train is blown up by Captain Karl Ludwig, who is jealous that Rockland is engaged to Kramer's daughter Erica.

Kramer holds a party to celebrate the discover of the gem, called "The Southern Star". A power blackout leads to chaos and the diamond is gone. Matakit (Johnny Sekka) is thought to be the thief and flees on a pet ostrich.

Rockland, believed to be an accomplice, escapes from prison with help of Erica, and they set out after Matakit. Karl and his men follow, intending to steal the diamond for themselves.

Word of the theft quickly reaches Major Plankett, Kramer's former security chief, who lost his position to Karl and swears revenge.

Plankett captures Matakit and uses him to trap Karl. However, Karl manages to use Matakit to lure Rockland into a trap. Rockland manages to rescue Matakit as Karl is killed in a shootout. Rockland retrieves the gem for Kramer.

Cast

Production

In April 1968 it was announced that Orson Welles would join the cast.[3] The film was shot on location in Senegal, in English and French versions.

Reception

Box Office

The film was the 18th most popular movie at the UK box office in 1969.[4]

Critical

The New York Times wrote, "The film evolves as a tongue-in-cheek, campy chase through Senegal's bush country, where it was shot in lovely pastel shades...Mr. Welles, looking like Buddha, swilling cognac, speaking in a pseudo-Cockney accent and perspiring in a white hunter's getup, lazily adds to the lampoon. "It's supposed to pull your leg," Mr. Segal explains to Miss Andress as he sets a trap for their pursuers. "The Southern Star" does just that, even if it isn't funny enough during a good deal of the trek";[5]

The Los Angeles Times said the film "wisely plays it for laughs" and was "not particularly well made".[6]

The Radio Times noted a "Splendidly photographed African adventure filmed on authentic Senegalese locations, but alas bearing the curse of the international co-production. Underrated editor-turned-director Sidney Hayers tries to pull together the Jules Verne-inspired plot and a cast that verges on the preposterous, headed by George Segal (far too urban for this type of trek), the ravishingly lovely Ursula Andress, and the great Orson Welles, who was obviously in need of the money. Brits, Ian Hendry and Harry Andrews bring some dignity to a romp that isn't sure whether it's comedy or adventure or both, but it looks good nevertheless."[7]

References

  1. "BFI | Film & TV Database | L' ETOILE DU SUD (1968)". Ftvdb.bfi.org.uk. 16 April 2009. Retrieved 6 October 2010.
  2. SOUTHERN STAR, The Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 36, Iss. 420, (Jan 1, 1969): 108.
  3. MOVIE CALL SHEET: Sean Signs for 'Maguires'. Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 13 Apr 1968: 17.
  4. "The World's Top Twenty Films." Sunday Times [London, England] 27 Sept. 1970: 27. The Sunday Times Digital Archive. accessed 5 Apr. 2014
  5. A. H. Weiler (29 May 1969). "Movie Review - - Pursuit of a Diamond". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  6. The Southern Star' in Citywide Engagement. Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times 12 June 1969: e22.
  7. "The Southern Star - Film from RadioTimes". Radiotimes.com. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
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