Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel

White Raven, The (1998) No *

Directed by Andrew Stevens. Written by Michael Blodgett . Photography, Michel Slovis. Editing. Ben Hedlund. Production design, Michael Borthwick. Cast: Ron Silver (Tully Windsor), Joanna Pacula (Julia Konneman), Roy Scheider (Tom Heath), Hannes Jaenicke (Dockmonish), Elizabeth Shepherd (Hannah Rothschild), Jan Rubes ( Markus Strand) Jack Recknitz (Inspector Zielinski), Doug Lennox (General Dodd), Larry Poindexter(Lieutenant Kreister) Agnieszka Wagner ( Zofia), et al. 92 minutes. R (violence).

I am positive that this incredibly bad item went directly to video. It appears to have been shown on Pay-per-view cable, then rapidly went to regular cable. Even watched for nothing (not counting the cost of cable service), it is a disaster.

The story, which swims in a sea of incoherences, impossibilities and idiocies, utilizes actor Ron Silver as the hero. Silver, in a good role, can be quite effective, but here he is ludicrous.

Note that summary credits in film guides list only the names of Roy Scheider - who has a minuscule role, and Joan Severance, whoever she is --who's not even in the film. Talk of sloppiness. Except for Silver, no one has much more than a walk-on appearance.

He plays Tully, a Pulitzer-winning journalist who had done some work on a Nazi death camp survivor. In ways that make no sense, he gets involved by his editor (Scheider) in the case of The White Raven. This was the biggest or next biggest (some 270-plus carats?) diamond ever found.

I can't guarantee that my summary is truly correct since the movie acts like a sleeping pill. Even so, it would appear that when young, a female member of the Rothschild family (French branch) had been deported to a Nazi camp, but not before taking with her the diamond, which could become her salvation. (The SS of death camps never searched their victims, of course!)

Somehow she survived, presumably by bribing the camp's kommandant --which is even harder to believe than Star Wars. We meet her at the Rothschild Bank in Paris, which is populated by Israelis of all types. The lady, who should be by now at least in her seventies, looks at most 50. She declares that the stone is worth one hundred million dollars, and, if I am not mistaken (which I could well be), she wants her stone back in order to give those zillions to a worthy cause (Israel?).

Now the camp Kommandant, who presumably knows where the diamond is, has been forever a prisoner in a dank Warsaw jail. He is very old, very ill, quite crazy and wants to speak to Ron Silver. But before Silver gets to Warsaw he flies to Norway where he visits some unidentified friends --or rather relatives, and his (?) antique grandfather who has been like a vegetable (silent, etc.) since World War II. To top it all, it would appear that the very old man had been a brutal guard at the aforementioned Nazi camp.

Next, Tully flies to Warsaw. He has been stalked all along, and still is, by a young Lieutenant of the US Armed Forces. That fellow is secretly following our hero on the express orders of his General, who never told him why he had him play private eye. There's also some undefined man, a youngish American who plays host and guide to Tully. He packs a gun, and so does the journalist.

(There is quite a lot of firing revolvers. And even a bigger lot of Tully chain-smoking even during most impossible moments.)

The host takes Tully to a dance club which is full of sexy, provocative girls that make eyes and passes at Silver right away. Soon gunshots are exchanged with resulting corpses, and, and, and... The nonsense involves women, the young Lieutenant who'll never become a Captain, as well as corrupt Polish plainclothes detectives. Unless these are gangsters. Or gansgter-cops. Who knows?

Next Tully has a brief interview with the imprisoned Kommandant, whom he records on a cassette. I forget what was said exactly but somehow there is a hint that Tully, unbeknownst to himself, was also a Jew. This does not help the film's stupidity in any fashion I can discern.

Then the American general and his goons appear, want the cassette, rough-up Tully. This is followed by the Polish chief of Police (or something) arresting Tully (the cop is also after the diamond). Tully escapes in the most laughable way, outrunning and hiding from the pursuing cops (in their own territory!), finding asylum as well as aid from a beauteous female artist. The latter also smuggles him to the American Embassy in the trunk (front) of her VW Beetle. Things get so dumb and messy that I wonder whether or not the US Ambassador was also after the diamond.

With a few minutes to go, I fell asleep.

The only, microscopic plusses in the movie are: the lobby of the Rothschild Bank in Paris which I imagine was imagined by the set designers, and looks worthy of the Alhambra in Spain; a few views of Warsaw (the real thing) which are new to many of us who have only seen the city in ruins after the 1939 Nazi Blitz or the Ghetto and other uprisings; and a beautiful model posing "au naturel" for the lady artist.

Can't think of anything else. This has to be as bad, dumb and dumber, incoherent and incoherenter movie as was ever made on this planet.

The director, Andrew Stevens, has many credits (TV and film) on his resume, as producer, actor and director. They are all unknown, hardly familiar, or B works. Mr. Stevens is the son of actress Stella Stevens, a Southern beauty (allegedly born in Hot Coffee, Mississippi), a Playboy centerfold, and for several years a familiar fixture of B-movies, TV series and sometimes more important films. My dim memory of her tells me that given a chance she could act pretty well. I don't think that even with her modest past she could be proud of her boy.

Copyright © Edwin Jahiel

Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel