CHUBASCO is a Spanish word, borrowed from Portuguese, meaning “a severe squall of rain and wind”. In this throwaway 1968 programmer, it’s the name of the lead character, a youthful jerk played by Christopher Jones. Apt casting at any rate, as Jones, one of the late 60’s tiresome James Dean simulators (paging Michael Parks, Alex Cord, etc.), a dullard and a drip, was being foisted on us as The New Thing that year. This archaic picture was so little seen it doesn’t even qualify as a bomb, but Jones did have two hits in Wild In The Streets (wacky) and Three In The Attic (pathetic) before flaming out from personal problems and critical brickbats over his wan work in Ryan’s Daughter: if David Lean can’t coax life out of you, it’s time to split.
Written & directed by Allen H. Miner (as in minor key), this grinds gears in an antiquated attempt to mesh “youth culture” of the day (rebellion, sulking, pot smoking–which leads to, well, better pot) with delinquent standby Rebel Without A Cause (rebellion, sulking, switchblades) and further back, fop-tamer Captains Courageous (go to sea, stow the sulk, learn to work)–here the punk is tamed by putting him on a tuna trawler. Unfortunately, it’s not as much campy fun as you’d hope.
Constantly in trouble on the Southern California mainland, Chubasco heads out where the tunafish roam, learning how to man-up (learning when to shut-up is a good start) on hearty Simon Oakland’s fishing boat. Back on the beach waits girlfriend ‘Bunny’ (Susan Strasberg, waiting for a decent role; she wed Jones in ’65, divorced him by the time this came out in summer of ’68), and her angry, Chubasco-detesting father, Richard Egan. Old school vets Ann Sothern and Preston Foster are on hand, and there are reliable types in the supporting cast: Audrey Totter, Edward Binns, Peter Whitney, Joe De Santis, Ron Rich (demoted from The Fortune Cookie), Norman Alden. Unless you’re keen about watching schools of sea-chickens leaping, it’s “slow speed ahead” for a trawl lasting the standard 100 minutes.