DIAMOND HEAD mashes a pineapple field full of pulp into 1963 melodramatic juice, trumpeted by publicity as “The Giant Story Of Modern Hawaii !” For sure, it’s a great movie with which to perfect a Charlton Heston impression, as he uses every grimace, glower, head-shaking, teeth-baring tool in his limited arsenal to dominate proceedings as ‘King Howland’, biggest boss man of the 50th State. Chuck runs roughshod over every rival, including family, in a novelistic 107 minutes.
Guy Green wasn’t a strong enough director to rein in Chuck’s over-playing, which could match Kirk Douglas. Working for a William Wyler (The Big Country and Ben-Hur), Carol Reed (The Agony And The Ecstasy) or Sam Peckinpah (Major Dundee) and Heston’s tethered range could be properly sculped, but this job displays him at his hammiest.
The turgid script doesn’t help any, and the rest of the cast flounder under a ton of racial intolerance, hinted incest, open adultery and general bad vibes. Hapless indeed are Yvette Mimieux, George Chakiris, France Nuyen and James Darren. Plenty of good looks and bad lines to go round.
It looks swell in color as Sam Leavitt’s camera drinks in the beauty of the locations, mostly on Kaua’i, helping bring the movie’s $4,500,000 take into the years #21 spot. Reviews shooed it off, and it’s, well–pretty bad, except as a time capsule with some camp appeal from all the histrionics.
With Aline MacMahon, Elizabeth Allen, Vaughan Taylor and the always welcome Philip Ahn.