Friday, October 18, 2013

A Man with Slow Hands

I watched my first Burt Lancaster movie to preview, The Professionals (1966).

Lancaster's mouth gets a lot of press. His grin may be charming, but his teeth are chompers. The better to eat you with, my dear. 
His hands, however, are what's on show in this movie.

Burt plays Bill Dolsworthy, an expert in dynamite. He's part of a crack team a rich rancher hires to rescue his kidnapped wife. 

Nitroglycerine, the liquid explosive in dynamite, is extremely touchy. It's the stuff that blew up Emil Nobel, the brother of Alfred who went on to give peace prizes. 

Nitro is mixed with dry, inert matter, but even so, it's shock sensitive. You can't handle it in a heated rush.

  Lancaster was an acrobat when he was young (he's in his early fifties here), and he's a wonderfully physical actor. He did his own stunts in this film. Hunkus Americanus, film-critic Pauline Kael called him. But while his character is casually brutal, he's got beautifully slow hands.

Here he is rigging dynamite to blow a rock wall. He stabs it ever so carefully, and inserts the fuse.
Then he lies back and tucks the bundle, gently, gently, into a cleft in the rock.

Real satisfying to watch.

[I'll post a full review later.]


Zhoen said...

Have you seen the BBC Danger UXB series?

Fresca said...

I have not. What's the connection?

Zhoen said...

Bomb defusing, steady hands, that sort of thing.

Fresca said...

Ah, I see someone's posted entire episodes on youTube--I'll check it out.

There's an interesting bomb-defuser character in "The English Patient" too, at least in the book.

(Burt's character is not interested in DEfusing, of course--he likes to make things blow up. Either way, takes those hands with the easy touch...)