FOUR DESPERATE MEN—full disclosure: I have to admit it’s been ages since I’ve seen this 1959 nugget (though I did see it twice), so maybe it would look different to my now Wisdom Tortured Eyes, but I recall it as a neat idea with a decent script and good performances all round.
Four prison escapees get their boat stuck on Pinchgut Island in Sydney Harbor. Pinchgut was a fort at the time. The convicts take the caretaker and family hostage, in order to bargain with the governor for a pardon. Their trump card isn’t the family, but the big cannons on the island. If their demands aren’t met they turn the artillery on an ammunition ship moored in the harbor, and blow Sydney all the way to Perth. The authorities race. The family tests the degrees of resolve among the four.
Though filmed in Sydney, the crew was British, and the lead actor was American tough guy Aldo Ray. Ray had punched across vivid characterizations throughout the 50s, and he shows off to good advantage in one of his last leading roles.
Nice views of old Sydney Harbor, well paced suspense that accelerates until the finale. At 104 minutes, with Heather Sears, Neil McCallum, Victor Maddern, Carlo Giustini, Alan Tilvern, Barbara Mullen and Gerry Duggan. Directed by Harry Watt. Outside the U.S., the title was The Siege Of Pinchgut.