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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

'The Blue Lightning:' You Call That an Opal

The DVD release of the "The Blue Lightning" is the first title in the catalog of Shout Factory subsidiary Timeless Media that is being reviewed in this space. Timeless offers great vintage films and movies, such as "The Loretta Young Show", that are less mainstream than a typical Shout title. These titles also include "The Virgnian" and other '60s westerns.

"Lightning" is a delightfully cheesy 1986 TV movie in which "I Spy'" and "The Greatest American Hero's" Robert Culp plays a brutal IRA soldier with an amusingly inconsistent Irish accent who has moved to the Australian outback to create a criminal empire. Despite having an underground lair and a team of thugs, Culp's Lester McInally would end up crying for his Ma even at the mention of James Bond's name.

The titular Blue Lightning is a world-class opal that McInally sells a world-class billionaire but literally fails to deliver the goods on being paid. This prompts said billionaire to recruit tough guy for hire Harry Wingate to retrieve either the gem or the money.

One of the best lines of the film comes within a few minutes of Wingate arriving in Australia. He quickly kills a poisonous reptile that is in his hotel room courtesy of McInally. Wingate then tosses the reptile on the floor outside his room and tells a hotel employee that the plumber forgot his snake.

Wingate and his predictably inevitable love interest then repeatedly fight off a pair of McInnally's thugs who are charged with preventing Wingate from reaching McInally. The action includes an in-air gun fight that is reminiscent of the hilarious '60s cartoon series "Dick Dastardly and Muttley" and a collision between a large cattle truck and an obstacle on the highway that reminds one of the Road Runner cartoons.

Wingate's initial confrontation with McInally sets the scene for the middle of the film in which Wingate bonds with the aborigines who ultimately join his campaign for traditional reasons that relate to honor.

The final battle royale is a fitting end to the film.

The fact that this tale is not particularly original and the acting is not award (or sponge cake) worthy does not mean that it is not entertaining. It is 90-minutes of good escapism with nice desert scenery. Further, the cliches only add to the enjoyment of the film.

Anyone with questions about the film or "Muttley" is encouraged to email me.

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