Richard Brooks, one of America’s most influential and successful directors, teamed with Peter O'Toole, James Mason and Jack Hawkins for this ambitious adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s high-seas adventure, LORD JIM. The story of an idealistic Merchant Marine officer who disgraces himself when he abandons his ship, Conrad’s classic tale of cowardice and redemption was a stark departure for Brooks. Better known for the contemporary realism of such seminal hits as Blackboard Jungle, Elmer Gantry and In Cold Blood, Brooks was eager to tackle LORD JIM's epic themes. The casting of Peter O'Toole, a top box-office star, paved the way for the high-budget production to begin. Aided by an outstanding supporting cast, which includes Curt Jurgens and Eli Wallach, Brooks and his stars faithfully captured all the action, drama and depth of Conrad’s unforgettable adventure.
Three years after Lawrence of Arabia
, the largely impressive Lord Jim
(1965) finds Peter O'Toole again essaying a self-doubting but remarkable, white Englishman who leads a foreign people against their oppressor. Based on the Joseph Conrad novel, Lord Jim
is the story of a British maritime officer, Jim (O'Toole), who takes a brief post on a tramp steamer and flees in terror during a storm at sea. Dogged by a reputation for cowardice, Jim attempts to reinvent himself in his own eyes, commanding an attack against a feudal warlord (Eli Wallach) in a distant, Southeast Asian village and basking in god-like glory afterward. A sinister plot by a gentleman pirate (James Mason) sets the stage for Jim's confrontation with his true destiny. Simplified and adapted by writer-director Richard Brooks (In Cold Blood
), Lord Jim
sometimes feels rushed and obvious, but O'Toole's golden performance and legendary cinematographer Freddie Young's 70mm footage are outstanding. --Tom Keogh