Maracaibo

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MARACAIBO does not mean ‘lousy movie’ in Spanish: it’s the name of a city and lake in Venezuela. Lots of oil there. Some of the derricks commence to burping every so often and it takes men with cojones to snuff the flames. Pec-flexing womanizers like Cornel Wilde, decent young fellas like Michael Landon, sensitive mutes like Francis Lederer and apish Brooklyn dopes like Joe E. Ross. And their women: Jean Wallace, of the smoldering passion hidden beneath a saintly exterior, and Abbe Lane, she of darkly deceptive ilk, replete with heaving bosoms. (Lane at 26 was something to burn stuff down over)

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Let’s see: fire, dame, sharks: okay, I’m in.

Some pretty awful acting and dialogue decorate this phony exercise, and the burning oil wells have little spectacle. Landon plays one of those earnest, clean types you’re supposed to be charmed by, but when his fiery fate is ordained by the script, all that emerges is a chuckle, such is the emotional pull of this lame-brained tax write-off.

Produced & directed by Wilde, the third of six films he directed in which he co-starred with his wife Jean Wallace.

There is a little atmosphere from Laurindo Almeida’s score, and locations in Caracas and the title city are of mild historical interest as regards the Venezuela of 1958. 88 minutes.

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