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  Thunderstorm Wild Women Do
Year: 1956
Director: John Guillermin
Stars: Carlos Thompson, Linda Christian, Charles Korvin, Garry Thorne, Tito Junco, Erica Vaal, Catherina Ferraz, José Marco Davó, Félix de Pomés, Conchita Bautista, Julia Caba Alba, Isabel de Pomés, Carlos Díaz de Mendoza, Amalia Iglesias, Néstor M. Neana
Genre: Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Here is a Spanish coastal town which relies on its fishing industry to get by, though recently the pickings have been slim with regard to the ocean's bounty, leading the population closer to poverty. It doesn't help that the man who buys and sells the fish, local store owner Pablo Gardia (Charles Korvin) is exploiting them since there is no one else they can go to with their wares, and this is generating some resentment that he is content to live with when he knows he is king of the castle with nobody to touch him. But one day, fisherman Diego Martinez (Carlos Thompson) was out in his boat with his fellow sailors when they noticed a craft adrift, and on investigation there was an unconscious woman inside...

She will be the cause of much ruckus and rumpus over the course of the next eighty minutes or so, as she is the mysterious Maria Ramon and she was played by gossip column favourite Linda Christian, the Mexican star in Hollywood, here dyed blonde, who had somehow made it into this British film. Indeed, it was a British film with not one star from its home nation in it whatsoever, though all the actors spoke English, or at least were dubbed into English, or both, as was the practice in the industry's movies of the day. You were lucky if you got to use your own voice back then, especially if you were a woman, for the Brits preferred to make you more understandable to the local audience by smoothing down your accent with some anonymous dubbing actress.

In this case, Thunderstorm was one of those United Kingdom attempts to portray those passionate foreigners as they imagined they would be had this been a production from the Continent, a great reserve of lusty maidens and macho men getting into all sorts of love-related trouble, whether it be because the lady was attached to two men at once or the lady was seen as a loose woman and therefore shunned by the society she had found herself in, that kind of thing. Here director John Guillermin, who would go on to a career of interesting titles at the very least, opted to combine both of those plotlines into one great big, er, storm of torrid behaviour, banking on the idea that Linda Christian was enough of a name to carry these wild shenanigans.

That was down to the audiences more or less believing she was behaving on screen as she would in her private life (not that it was that private), and that she would be the source of romantic issues should she get anywhere within a whiff of a marriageable male - or even one who was already married. We're meant to believe Linda would cruise the high seas in her little boat seeking some man to ruin thanks to her unintentional irresistibility, and there's even an overt image of her as a Siren of myth, on the rocks by the shore leading an impressionable chap to his doom. As if that wasn't enough, once she gets her hands on Diego, she ends up canoodling with him on the beach in a straight lift from the most famous scene in From Here to Eternity.

Only the way it plays out here has both lovers almost overcome with the elements, a visual metaphor for Maria's incredible feminine power that has Diego washed out to sea by a big wave. If this is sounding a tad ri-goddamned-diculous, as John Wayne would say, then truth to tell it was, but it took itself so gravely seriously that it wasn't half as much fun as it could have been, more Mills and Boon than Jackie Collins in its depiction of rampant attraction scandalising a whole community. When there's a bit of murder introduced, even then it isn't really, simply a fatal accident that the conniving Pablo pins on his love rival Diego in an accusation our hapless hero must extricate himself from, both still believing they can win the heart of Maria who by this stage is being blamed for every bit of bad news under the sun, as if she is a token of bad omens and not some woman rescued from an ill-advised boating trip. This is one of those movies where it didn't think they could get away with a happy ending, condemning Maria when she was a victim of circumstance and good looks. Music by Paul Misraki.

[Network's DVD has a nice, restored print and a gallery as an extra.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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