Edgar Wallace Presents: Coast of Skeletons Review
When Britain ruled the waves, the waters got a bit choppy. The splash back of our colonial past leaves right thinking Brits sodden and soaked to the skin with liberal guilt. The plundering of countries that now have become some of the most distressed and poverty stricken on the planet is not something I can feel very comfortable revelling in when fiction attempts to spin a tale upon it. Fare like Indiana Jones leaves me hot and bothered at the stereotypes and treasures robbed from the wretched of the Earth, and the colonial adventuring heroes of British cinema are not ones I feel I can salute either.
The tales of Edgar Wallace often involve the powerful and wealthy with despicable crimes. With a reconstructed modern approach, his stories could take on the exploiters of empire and the corrupt colonialists, but in the case of Coast of Skeletons no such approach is present. What we get instead is an adventuring thriller with a hero who is chiselled out of colonial authority, happy to slap down anyone challenging him whilst wining and dining his European girlfriend and his white as white employers. He is the civilising influence, the British sense of fair play and a stereotype it'd be nice to believe in...Richard Todd plays Sanders of Africa, recently returned from the colonies where a new broom has swept him out. Back in London, an insurance firm hires him to look into a dodgy entrepreneur whose ships have conveniently been scuttled down in the colonies, leaving his insurers out of pocket. Sanders meets his quarry for a bang up meal after some fisticuffs on his ship and they travel to Africa where death seems to be hot on Sander's heels. Once on the new ship, Sanders discovers the truth of the previous trip and greed promises a bad ending for him on this one.
Rather than follow the template of those marvellous Krimi adaptations of Wallace from Germany where corruption is everywhere and heroes are absent, Coast of Skeletons follows the upright Sanders as he cuffs Johnny Foreigner's ear and searches doggedly for the truth. Now, some fun can be got from fare of this kind if the adventure is of the entertaining kind, and even if revisited through modern eyes becomes charmingly dated - but this outing is awfully static and perfunctory. The truth is that there is nothing intriguing or exciting, or unpredictable, in Coast of Skeletons. The story is all predestined - hero meets girl, girl becomes girlfriend etc. etc.... The depiction of the colonised is thankfully absent bar a cringe-worthy 10 minute opening where black men with spears are sorted out by Sanders in the first of many badly choreographed fight sequences. Sadly this is a pretty weak presentation of Wallace which relies on Todd's stardom to rescue dull action and a complete lack of movie magic.
Not recommended, sorry.
Network give the film a single layer disc which is region B locked and support the main feature with a 30 second photo gallery featuring posters, press book art and lobby cards. The film does not contain subtitles and there is a single English mono option which is in good nick, not dynamic but clear of obvious damage or mastering issues.The print is obviously not a strong one and the quality overall is quite thin, relying on colour boosting, edge enhancement and some filtering to enhance the image overall. Flesh tones are often very pink and a green hue appears at times as well, still this is not over bright and contrast is dependable enough.
Not the best entry in Network's Edgar Wallace series with an average transfer.