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  Ambassador, The Peace On Or Peace Off?
Year: 1984
Director: J. Lee Thompson
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Ellen Burstyn, Rock Hudson, Fabio Testi, Donald Pleasence, Chelli Goldenberg, Michal Bat-Adam, Ori Levy, Uri Gavriel, Zachi Noy, Joseph Shiloach, Shmulik Kraus, Yossi Virginsky, Yftach Katsur, Shai Schwartz, Ran Vered, Assi Abaiov
Genre: Drama, Thriller, WarBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: The United States ambassador to Israel, Peter Hacker (Robert Mitchum), has his work cut out for him as he tries to broker a peace deal, which he is endeavouring to do by secretly meeting representatives of the Arab side of the dispute today in the desert. What he doesn't know is that while he attempts to bring about peace, his wife Alex (Ellen Burstyn) is having an affair with Mustapha Hashimi (Fabio Testi), an antiques dealer in Jerusalem, and all behind her husband's back. As if that were not bad enough, before Hacker gets the chance to make his moves, a helicopter shows up and starts shooting at them...

The Ambassador, if it is recalled for anything much, was remembered chiefly for being the last cinema film of star Rock Hudson, who played Mitchum's shadowy right hand man here, because he was dying of AIDS by this time and needed to take any job he could get to fund his treatment. As it happened, Cannon were only too happy to hire him for a featured role, increasing the star power along with the also admittedly ageing Mitchum and Burstyn, and while the themes in this were perfectly sincere, the increasingly frail state of Hudson was what grabbed all the headlines as he was one of the first truly high profile victims of the disease which would kill him the following year.

So with that in mind it's kind of difficult to enjoy The Ambassador, but it was such a heavy handed message movie otherwise it's not as if the Israeli producers behind Cannon, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, made this easy to get along with otherwise, however laudable their pleas for peace in the Middle East. As ever flattering America, their film posited the intervention of the U.S.A. as the best hope for bringing that ideal about, except they took the noble attitudes of a statesman and mixed it in with a blackmail plot adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel, 52 Pick Up, which didn't exactly make one hopeful for his supposedly keen bargaining instincts if his wife was able to pull the wool over his eyes so easily.

Speaking of which, if it was not Rock's real life plight which diverted attention away from the Israel-Palestine conflict, then it was Burstyn's decision to be burstin' out of her clothes, as early on the movie featured a lengthy nude scene for the respected actress, which she was brave enough to take part in at the age of fifty-one. For her more mature fans, presumably, but she showed she had nothing to be ashamed of, it was simply surprising to see an actress of her standing resorting to behaviour more likely from a starlet half her age. Anyway, this leads to the blackmail plot because the Arab terrorists who "don't even agree with Yasser Arafat" have been secretly filming her liaisons.

And they're threatening to release the tape to the world's television stations, not perhaps recognising that TV news in the eighties would not dream of broadcasting a sex tape, but that is what we're asked to accept is placing the possibility of Hacker's peace deal in grave jeopardy, especially as Mustapha is a member of the P.L.O. See what I mean about our hero not exactly engendering good faith? Not helping was that Mitchum was quite plainly coasting through his role in "pay me" fashion - rumour had it he was permanently sozzled throughout, meaning you'd get a better Robert Mitchum in 1984 from watching Dustin Gee on TV's Russ Abbott's Madhouse. But The Ambassador had something important to say, dammit, and that was the youth of both the Jewish and Arab population represented the hope for the future, so if they could set aside their differences there may be peace at last. Which doesn't quite explain why we had to get there via a massacre, or that actual events have not thus far proved the filmmakers correct, worse luck. Music by Dov Seltzer.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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J. Lee Thompson  (1914 - 2002)

Veteran British director frequently in Hollywood, usually with stories featuring an adventure or thriller slant. Among his many films, including a number of Charles Bronson movies, are Yield to the Night, Ice Cold in Alex, North West Frontier, the original Cape Fear, Tiger Bay, The Guns of Navarone, What a Way To Go!, Eye of the Devil, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Battle for the Planet of the Apes and Happy Birthday to Me.

 
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