Fire Down Below (1957)
“Torrid, tempestuous Irena…the spark that turned the tropics into a blazing cauldron of passions!”
Director: Robert Parrish
Cast: Rita Hayworth, Robert Mitchum, Jack Lemmon
Synopsis: Tony and Felix own a tramp boat, and sail around the Caribbean doing odd jobs and drinking a lot. They agree to ferry the beautiful but passportless Irena to another island.
Firstly, I like the title of this movie — Fire Down Below is a double-entendre that describes the action on the water while hinting at the passions raging within the three lead characters.
The movie starts off with a straightforward menage-a-trois situation: Robert Mitchum and Jack Lemmon (in a rare early serious role) both have the hots for the mysterious woman (Rita Hayworth) they are ferrying illegally to a Caribbean island, and inevitably fall out. Having lost Hayworth to Mitchum, Lemmon vows to kill his former friend.
And then, suddenly, we’re watching another movie; a tense and highly-involving ‘man-in-peril’ story that introduces a new set of characters and dispenses with Mitchum and Hayworth until the last 15 minutes. Upon their re-introduction to the story the plot dive-bombs spectacularly into trite Hollywood cliche, and the final ‘confrontation’ scene has to be the dampest squib ever filmed.
Lemmon is great in his part, though – and drinks a lot of beer when in peril, which I find to be an endearing quality in any character; Hayworth is past her best already – and looks pretty lousy in some shots – but her performance is solid, while never really softening enough for the viewer to find truly sympathetic. And Mitchum – well, he’s the same old two-fisted, heavy-lidded, sucked-in-stomach character he was before and since. No bad thing in my book.
(Reviewed 22nd January 2002)