Once Before I Die (1966)

Article 3423 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-18-2010
Posting Date: 12-28-2010
Directed by John Derek
Featuring Ursula Andress, John Derek, Richard Jaeckel
Country: USA / Philippines
What it is: Oddball war movie

A group of soldiers in the Philippines are caught off guard by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and make a journey across the island, bringing with them a beautiful woman.

As a director, John Derek seems to be mostly known for his movies designed to show off the body of his wife Bo Derek; he gave us stuff like TARZAN THE APE MAN, BOLERO, and GHOSTS CAN’T DO IT. This is probably his best movie, though that doesn’t mean it’s particularly good; it is rather offbeat, though. Granted, it is a vehicle for one of his earlier wives, Ursula Andress, and it seems to revolve around her, which is unfortunate; she seems lost and characterless throughout. That’s probably why the movie is stolen by Richard Jaeckel, who plays Lieutenant Custer, who, unlike his historical namesake, shaves his head; he is the only actor here who really seems to be committed to bringing his role to life.

Now the big question here is – why am I covering this movie? It’s listed in John Stanley’s “Creature Features Movie Guide Strikes Again”, and his justification for it is the Andress is the “angel of death” because every man she kisses dies. Maybe so, but the movie never once makes that explicit or even really drops hints; it’s just one way to interpret the events on the screen, and I personally think this movie doesn’t qualify in its fantastic content. Still, at least it gives me another John Derek movie to compare with before my inevitable encounters with TARZAN THE APE MAN and GHOSTS CAN’T DO IT.

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