Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea, The (1976)
“Morality is nothing more than a set of rules that adults have invented to protect themselves.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Of the lead actors, Miles is marginally compelling as a lonely, sexually frustrated widow who clearly misses her dearly departed husband on multiple levels — a fact which Carlino ensures that we “get” by cutting his camera back and forth between a photo of said husband and Miles’s forlorn expression as she masturbates, all in clear view of her teenage son Jonathan (who has somehow managed to maintain a creepy peephole from his bedroom into hers for 15-odd years without her finding out — until she finally does, in one of the film’s most melodramatically implausible moments). Meanwhile, the choice to cast stoic Kristofferson in the title role probably sounded good on paper, but was ultimately misguided; while he functions nicely as a buff presence in his notoriously soft core lovemaking scenes with Miles, he never emerges as a viable character (though this could be at least in part blamed on the script, which may have wanted him to come across as simply a sexual “predator” invading Jonathan’s private “affair” with his mother).
Kahn (who apparently never pursued an adult career in film) is serviceable as Miles’s brooding adolescent son, but Rhodes — in a critical supporting role as his domineering playmate — is simply insufferable. His character clearly isn’t meant to be sympathetic on any level, but, as played by Rhodes, he simply comes across as a shrewish caricature of a bully rather than someone we’re intrigued by on any level. Meanwhile, the entire storyline surrounding Jonathan’s involvement with Rhodes’s clique — with its perverse yet provocative philosophical groundings — is handled purely for sensationalism, rather than with any genuine desire to understand these kids and their goals. We get it that Rhodes is a (possibly psychopathic) control freak who has brainwashed his followers into believing that one must strive towards some form of purity in life — but without any additional information (i.e., for those who haven’t read Mishima’s source novel), one is tempted to interpret their actions, in DVD Savant’s words, as simply “pubescent boys expressing their hormonal hysteria in the wrong directions”.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
One thought on “Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea, The (1976)”
Some films should simply never have been made. This is one of them. It’s dreck. A total waste of time. Ridiculous and pointless, it is mostly, and inexcusably, just plain dull. It also features some pretty awful acting (esp. by Rhodes). I had to start skipping through parts of it, this time round, once it got to the despicable depiction of the cat ‘experiment’ (which I had forgotten about it).
My guess is the creators thought they had some kind of art house novelty item on their hands.