The more of Phil Karlson films I explore, the more I am beginning to think he is truly under-appreciated filmmaker who just doesn't get the credit he deserves.
Rampage is the story of a world-renowned animal trapper (Robert Mitchum) who is commissioned to track down, The Enchantress, a mythical Malaysian tiger/panther hybrid. He is teamed with an old but skilled hunter (Jack Hawkins) and his young, beautiful wife (Elsa Martinelli). This film is full of great relationship dynamics between these three characters to the point that the actually hunt is really just a backdrop for the deadly game of carnal desires. From the onset it's clear that their is sexual tension between Mitchum and the young woman, who makes no bones about the obvious attraction. Jack Hawkins character's plight is by far the most interesting aspect of the film. This is a man whose skill and dominance in his profession slowly decays away due to father time, leaving him wanting nothing more but to prove that he still has what it takes. Of course this is just one of his problems as he is also dealing with the fear of losing his wife to the skilled-trapper in Mitchum. While the film centers around the hunt for the tiger, the real meat comes in the cat and mouse game which both Mitchum and Hawkins play for this woman's affection. I guess some may have a problem with how Elsa Martinelli's character portrays women- an individual whose attraction to power and expertise makes her question her love and respect for Hawkins. I personally don't see a problem with it, as the script covers its basis and demonstrating that from a young age this Hawkins character is all she has ever known, which explains why power means so much to her. The script is good if not great, loaded with lots of great innuendos and subtle aggressive commentary between the two men, also slightly commenting on the simple fact that man is the most dangerous creature of all. Phil Karlson's Rampage is a film of multiple layers, further proving how underrated of a filmmaker he really was.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.