Last week the needle got put back on the horribly broken record that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Now the U.N. is already discussing the bringing of war crimes charges on both the Israeli government and Hamas, the Palestinian political organization, as the civilian casualty toll climbs toward 800.
One of the most prominent details about the conflict for some time has been the lack of charismatic and visionary personalities on either side, such as there were forty years ago during the time of Menachim Begin, Anwar Sadat and the Camp David Accord.
For an earlier, prophetic example, I recommend checking out Sean Connery as Khalil Ahmed er Raisuli in The Arab Conspiracy aka The Next Man (1976), available on FilmOn’s free VoD service. If one can look beyond the hint of a Scottish brogue, you can see Connery in the midst of a high in his post-Bond run that began with John Boorman’s Zardoz (1974) and would also include The Wind and the Lion (1974) and The Man Who Would Be King (1975). Here he is all over the place, making often profound and forward-thinking personal and diplomatic gestures, going all metro-sexual as he cooks for his security squad, finding time for delicate romance with Bond-quality interludes including martinis and fights to the death.
Connery is also blessed with a top notch supporting cast gleaned from classic 70’s Manhattan-based films such as his romantic interest/adversary Cornelia Sharpe (Pacino’s nurse girlfriend in Serpico), Bill Snickowski (the undercover hippie in Pelham 1,2,3), Charles Cioffi (Klute, Shaft), and Ted Beniades (Serpico, Shaft), Marco St. John (Night of the Juggler, Ball Four series), Jaime Sanchez (Serpico, The Wild Bunch) and Lance Henriksen (Dog Day Afternoon,The Right Stuff, Aliens). Director Richard C. Sarafian, who directed the 1971 cult classic Vanishing Point, sprinkles authentic cameos by the great Adolfo Celi (Thunderball, Danger Diabolik, VoD’s The Italian Connection), Ecuadorian actor Albert Paulsen (The Manchurian Candidate, Hawaii 5-O, Rockford Files) and authentic locations such as Beirut, Nice, and the Bahamas besides numerous Manhattan locations such as the now venerable UN Building.
Perhaps the best touch is the inclusion of a musician from the 60‘s Manhattan group New York Rock and Soul Ensemble, one Michael Kamen, as composer of the melancholy Mediterranean/flamenco soundtrack. Kamen would go on to score such varied films over his ‘epic’ career as John Waters’ Polyester, Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, Die Hard, Robin Hood and X-Men, while also orchestrating Pink Floyd, Queen and Eurythmics tracks among many others before his untimely death in 2003.
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