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  Mother Lode Golden Fears
Year: 1982
Director: Charlton Heston, Fraser C. Heston
Stars: Charlton Heston, Nick Mancuso, Kim Basinger, John Marley, Dale Wilson, Rocky Zantolas, Marie George
Genre: AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Jean Dupre (Nick Mancuso) is tired of his job as a pilot, flying customers around in a two seater plane for no thanks, so when he gets his boss into the passenger seat so they can do a scouting mission to look for a geologist who went missing in the Canadian wilderness a couple of weeks ago, he deliberately flies the plane like a maniac, looping the loop and swooping low over the landscape until he is ordered to take it down. However, on landing on the runway, he hops out and leaves his boss in the runaway aircraft, much to his consternation when he nearly crashes into another plane; he yells at Jean that he's fired, and Jean is delighted with the news. Now he can sell his house, buy his own plane and go looking for a fortune in gold.

You may surmise that Jean is not the most sensible of characters from that opening ten minutes, especially when you see the vehicle he has bought which looks decidedly clapped out, but at least he has the head on his shoulders to direct him to take Kim Basinger along as a partner in gold hunting, although after the time they have she may not have agreed. She played Andrea, friend of the missing man, and required by the plot to scream when events grew fraught with danger, which given this was a man's man adventure flick was about the most she could hope for - yes, she was kidnapped as well. But she wasn't a total dead loss, no matter what Fraser C. Heston's script demanded of Andrea.

What made this more interesting was that it was the second of two films directed by one of the most popular actors of his day, Charlton Heston (father of...), though that day had been more the nineteen-fifties and sixties than the eighties, where he wasn't headlining the blockbusters he used to. Still, if it bothered him he didn't appear to gripe about it too much, and it meant he had the chance to let his hair down in production such as Mother Lode, literally as he was a very hairy character indeed here, playing the prospector who has lived alone in the wilderness for nigh on thirty years. That location was obviously very important to him, for he served up many minutes of what amounted to scenery porn, all the better to use nature's spectacle.

It was certainly one nice-looking film, albeit tempered by the scenes where the characters delved below the ground and into the network of mines that Heston's Silas McGee had blasted out of the rock. Now, a word about the director/star, for reasons best known to himself he opted to implement a different accent than his accustomed one, and his inflections of choice were apparently Scottish. Apparently because the way he chuntered his dialogue in a gruff burr did sound a little like he was attempting the Scots accent, but you could be forgiven for not picking up on it until someone was heard playing the bagpipes (!) over the landscape which offered the pointers to Silas's country of origin as imagined by the star. Mind you, if you wanted a few unintentional chuckles, then there was entertainment for you.

But most of the deliberate entertainment was in the form of the sort of Western that Heston was very fond of, and indeed had starred in once upon a time, only here he was cast against type as a villain, not that you're told that straight away. You do suspect it, however, as Silas is oddly cagey about what is going on out there in the middle of nowhere, which you could put down to all those years barely seeing a soul, or possibly because we saw him planting a pickaxe in the chest of what was presumably that geologist right at the beginning of the film. Yet there is a complication, for he may well have a twin brother lurking in the thick forest, who he claims is dead, then when he appears to be very much alive, may be the actual bad guy. As our hero, Mancuso managed to redeem his initial madness, though he remained in the shadow of his director, and Basinger was stuck in a rather stock role, but if you wanted a fair degree of rough and tumble in a faintly absurd, escapist kind of way, then you could do worse for what was Heston's final leading role in cinema. Music by Kenneth Wannberg.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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