Skullduggery (1970)

Article 4044 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 9-29-2012
Directed by Gordon Douglas
Featuring Burt Reynolds, Susan Clark, Roger C. Carmel
Country: USA
What it is: Meditation on humanity

A pair of fortune seekers finagle their way into an anthropological expedition in the hope of using it as a cover in their search for rare minerals. However, the situation becomes complicated when a race of missing links is discovered… and the possibility of their being exploited to serve the purpose of mining the minerals.

This movie has a fairly low rating on IMDB, and in some ways, it deserves it; the direction isn’t particularly strong, the script, as interesting as it in some ways, is muddled in others, and there’s something of a dull, hangdog feel to the proceedings. If it didn’t touch on what I consider a very interesting issue, I wouldn’t find much to recommend here. But the issue of the humanity of the missing links (which impacts on whether they would be considered employees or pack animals by their exploiters, as well as how they should be treated in other crucial ways) is fascinating, and the best part of the movie is in the final third, when one of the fortune seekers claims to have killed one of the missing links in order to force a court of law to decide on the humanity of the species. I’m not surprised that the movie ends as it does, though it is a little too abrupt about getting to the end credits; even though it was dramatically effective to leave certain issues unresolved, there are other issues that did need some sort of resolution. All in all, it’s a mediocre movie with a good idea.


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