Darker Than Amber (1970)

Talk about slow-paced!  This mystery/thriller, based on a John MacDonald novel,  is like watching paint dry.  The action takes place off the coast of Florida.  A beautiful blonde (Suzy Kendall), left to drown by two thugs, is discovered and revived by the hero and his sidekick.  Even after the hero and the blonde fall in love, she wont tell him whos after her or whats going on.  Blah, blah, blah.  

James Booth has two brief scenes in this film as Burk, a dirty old Irishman who lives in a derelict bus by the dock, renting out boats.  In the first scene, he awakens to the sound of the hero pulling away in one of his rental boats.  Burk runs down the dock after him, shouting, while the hero pretends not to hear.  

In the second, longer, scene, Burk has another humorous altercation with the hero and retires into his bus to play the ukulele and sing tunelessly to his pet birds.  A thug arrives and wants to know who rented the boat earlier.  Burk wont say, so the thug beats the crap out of him and bashes his head through the windshield of the bus.  Bye bye Burk and bye bye my reason for watching this turkey.

As usual, James Booth creates a vivid minor character.  The poignant little scene with the ukulele and the birds is unlike anything else Ive seen him do.  The neck scarf is back, worn more loosely, in red.  His fake  Irish accent sounds authentic, but his hair looks distractingly artificial.  (To age him, the make-up artist evidently painted his hair white.  Bleaching, or even a wig, would have looked more natural.)  

Text copyright Diana Blackwell, 2002.



Monthly Film Bulletin

Photoplay Film Monthly, 7/70