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Edgar Wallace Presents: Coast of Skeletons [DVD]
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Heading an international cast - including German 'krimi' veteran Heinz Drache - Dam Busters star Richard Todd reprises his role as insurance investigator Harry Sanders in this rare crime adventure based on Edgar Wallace's 1911 novel Sanders of the River. Made in 1964, Coast of Skeletons was the second Sanders adaptation produced and co-written by legendary B-movie mogul Harry Alan Towers, and is presented here in a new digital remaster in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio.
Dispatched to investigate the loss of a diamond dredger off southern Africa's Skeleton Coast, Harry Sanders encounters A.J. Magnus, the ship's wealthy American owner. He soon realises that the ruthless Magnus' true interest lies in the diamonds and gold from the sunken ships insured by Sanders' firm...
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The selling point for me was the fact it was filmed in Namibia, or what was then “South West Africa”, a former German colony, which explains the German cast. It is a country of many natural wonders and one ripe for some spectacular cinematography. Sadly that is not explored anywhere near enough! The book “The Kaiser’s Holocaust: Germany’s Forgotten Genocide”, is a book well worth reading about the countries German colonial period. The title tells you an awful lot! The paper thin plot has Richard Todd as an insurance investigator on the trail of a suspicious diamond hunter working on the Skeleton coast. With World War Two gold bullion, love triangles, fraud on a grand scale, and inevitably murder, you would think you might be in for an exciting roller coaster of a ride! You would be mistaken! I am sure everyone involved enjoyed making this film, but sadly it was a lost opportunity. No characters were developed to any meaningful degree and the story just meanders along as desolate as the Namib!
The acting would sweep the honours at the university of wooden acting academy awards. Richard Todd, who was a decent actor, simply goes through the motions as a James Bond style insurance investigator. Fine actor he might be, but Sean Connery he ain’t! Then we have the odd sight of Derek Nimmo doing a rehearsal for his stuttering, bit of a twit role in “Oh Brother”, as Todd’s sidekick. Dale Robertson is brought in for a bit of American clout as a generic brash Texan. Robertson was a better actor than many appreciated, but in this one he sleep walks through the role, as if he was simply enjoying his all expenses paid trip to Namibia, and who can blame him! The German and South African contingents simply give us a virtuoso example of bad acting! Alas we only get to see a little of the wonderful landscapes, the characters stumbling around the sand dunes for only a short time. The film has a low budget look to it, with most of that seemingly spent on the cast and the travelling expenses. The film is no more than a curiosity at best.
Robert Lynn directs this 1960s adventure based on the story by Edgar Wallace and starring Richard Todd and Dale Robertson.
Very good film,photographed in WideScreen 2.35.1 and Eastman Colour.
The German print is Excellent.
The British print I suspect will be from the same source
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