Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated Action/Adventure - Matt Barry ""

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Underrated Action/Adventure - Matt Barry

Matt Barry is a New York City-based writer, filmmaker and all-around cinephile. His favorite genres are classic comedies and film noir. You can read more of his thoughts on film at his blog, The Art and Culture of Movies (
He can be found on twitter here:

KING SOLOMON’S MINES (1937, dir: Robert Stevenson)
Based on the adventure classic by H. Rider Haggard, and later famously re-made in Technicolor by MGM in 1950, this original British version is still the best. Cedric Hardwicke stars as adventurer Allan Quartermain, along with the great Paul Robeson as the intrepid guide, Umbopa. Directed by Robert Stevenson years before he became identified with helming some of Disney’s biggest hits of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

CAPTAIN KIDD (1945, dir. Rowland V. Lee)
A list of adventure films would not be complete without one good pirate movie, and CAPTAIN KIDD is one of the finest in this genre. Odd, then, that it seems to be frequently overlooked, especially since it stars Charles Laughton in one of his best roles. A great deal of fun, filled with memorable dialogue and easily overcoming the limitations of its low budget. The kind of movie Hollywood just can’t make anymore.

FORT TI (1953, dir: William Castle)
Thrilling action flick, shot in 3-D and vivid Technicolor and set against the backdrop of the French and Indian War. William Castle directs with characteristic flair, packing the film with exciting battle scenes that take full effect of the 3-D presentation.  

TRADER HORN (1931, dir: W.S. Van Dyke)
Exciting adventure story shot on location in Africa, an impressive technical feat for an early talkie such as this. Perhaps not so much overlooked, as forgotten – and undeservedly so. It was a big hit in 1931, even nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, and still holds up well despite any creakiness of its script. Directed by expert studio craftsman W.S. Van Dyke – equally comfortable with exotic adventures like this as he was with sophisticated romantic comedy like THE THIN MAN – and starring silent Western icon Harry Carey as hunter Alfred Aloysius Horn, on whose book the movie was based.

THE EAGLE (1925, dir: Clarence Brown)
Fine swashbuckler starring Rudolph Valentino as a kind of “Russian Robin Hood” who must avenge his father’s death and free the peasantry from the grip of terror held by a sadistic aristocrat. Deftly blending comedy and adventure, Valentino’s penultimate film affords him one of his best roles, and is stylishly directed by Clarence Brown, with superb William Cameron Menzies sets creating the kinds of magical worlds only found in the silent film. An all-too-often overlooked gem of the silent era.

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