'Crushing' McClure

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 July, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 July, 1997, 12:00am

Donny Osmond may have been the first 'boy' I loved (I visited a friend, saw his posters and within days there wasn't a square centimetre of bare wall in my bedroom), but Trampas, from The Virginian, was the first 'man' I had a crush on.

The Virginian was the handsome one, a more sophisticated breed of cowboy altogether, but his sidekick in the series that ran for eight years, was the nice guy and the one for me.

It was decades ago and Doug McClure did much else before his untimely death two years ago from lung cancer but, in my family home, he is still referred to as Trampas.

Of course, when we see him these days it is in the fantasy B-movies that, when they were made, were colourful escapes but now, in the era of Jurassic Park technology, are painfully embarrassing to watch.

There's nothing new in Warlords Of Atlantis (World, 9.30pm) - a new world is discovered, a member of the party imprisoned, a rescue attempted and a final escape made as the lost world is about to be destroyed - so you'll have to be a fan of the genre to see much in it.

The movie features a giant octopus which, as guardian of the entrance to Atlantis, has snatched from the sea a series of boatloads of sailors and their families to turn into slaves to help repair and protect the underwater city.

The problem of how these human beings live beneath the waves is conveniently solved by giving them a gill transplant (the answer, perhaps, to the world's population problem).

Atlantis (which is situated almost directly below the Bermuda Triangle) is, according to the film, where the captain and men of the Marie Celeste went.

Atlantis is depicted as an amalgam of seven cities, ranging from monster-ridden sunken ruins to the beautiful upper cities filled with radiance and light.

There, the elite echelon, who are endowed with occult powers, seek to manipulate the earth forces into a world-shattering revolution that will produce the energy to transport them back to their mother planet in the skies.

While McClure, a virile young American engineer, and a young English biologist are exploring the sea bed in a diving bell, they are swept up by the tentacles of the octopus, together with the crew of an expedition ship, and deposited on a deserted beach in the centre of Atlantis.

In a race against time, McClure has to combat all the forces of the underworld and the occult superiority to return the party to the ship as normal human beings.

Cyd Charisse, usually associated with singing and dancing, appears as the beautiful and magnetic high priestess Atsil, though the camera's leering emphasis on her legs is rather vulgar.

A superior, though far less colourful film is Mac (Pearl, 9.30pm), the brainchild of John Turturro, who acted in it and made his directorial debut with it.

The story is about three brothers, Mac (Turturro), Vito (Michael Badalucco) and Bruno (Carl Capotorto), who work together in the building trade.

Mac's perfectionism brings him into conflict with the boss and the three go into business themselves, with inevitable tension.

'It's a story about a person who cares about what he does and the price he has to pay to be his own man,' said Turturro, who spent 12 years on the project and based the characters on men like his father.

'Mac is set in a very humorous world, but a very honest and brutal one. I've never seen a film about these type of people, who work with their hands and bodies together through all kinds of trials and hardships.' It is shot with insight and conviction but, in parts, the film is laboured. That said, the witty offbeat humour makes it well worth staying with.