This is the first of 3 efforts by this foremost Greek film-maker that I will be watching in tribute to his recent passing; that said, I have 3 other early works of his which I decided to by-pass at the moment. Following the commercial success of ZORBA THE Greek (1964), Cacoyannis was probably given carte blanche and he responded with a Cold War satire that seems to have been inspired both by DR. STRANGELOVE OR: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB (1963) and THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING, THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING! (1966)! The results, however, turned out to be rather limp and its failure sent the director back to his favorite subject i.e. Greek tragedy (more on this in my next review!).
The plot deals with a plane carrying nuclear armaments crashing onto a small and obscure Greek island -' when the aircraft is spotted by a fisherman and the locals cheer that they will finally make the news, the U.S. Air Force is quick to dispel the rumors, asserting that no plane (and its dangerous cargo) has gone missing! In the meantime, the two pilots (Tom Courtenay and Colin Blakely, actually Brits!) have swum to land in their underwear, and they spend two-thirds of the running-time trying to figure out how to acquire some form of clothing and food but, more importantly, contact their base to give them their position. What they do not know is that a military operation -' led by Sam Wanamaker and numbering among its components Ian Ogilvy -' has been commissioned, arriving incognito as landbusiness assessors for the purposes of erecting a hotel there, to retrieve the box containing the nuclear gizmo (having assumed the pilots drowned)! Soon after, however, tourists inundate the island -' having become the newest thing in paradise resorts overnight!
Others who come into the picture are a shepherd and his wife who actually discover the box and spend the entire film attempting to open it, and a nymphomaniac artist (Candice Bergen) who becomes involved with Ogilvy. The leading lady's role is quite pointless, though, especially since she leaves well before the end after having made yet another conquest! Similarly, Courtenay seems to have been recruited merely because his name was hip at the time (anybody could have played his character, and his compulsion for food is especially unconvincing in view of the actor's lanky figure)!
Though not quite as bad as the BOMB rating allotted it by the "Leonard Maltin Film Guide" would suggest, and the proceedings certainly prove amusing in spots, overall this is far from inspired stuff and decidedly forgettable into the bargain! What is more, for such a backwards community, the characters are decked out in the height of Carnaby Street fashion (amazingly, Cacoyannis personally designed the clothes!): we are thus treated to a couple of modern dances -' the traditional Greek form being relegated to the opening titles, despite the whole film being scored by ZORBA's Mikis Theodorakis -' which would not have been amiss within AIP's "Beach Party" franchise!
The film ends abruptly -' via an ostentatious but effective series of ever-distant zooms -' with the titular sequence (a multitude of dead fish are seen rising to the surface) indicating that the radiation has taken effect. Actually, the whole population is infected since the water system has also been unwittingly contaminated by the shepherd's wife! Unfortunately, the copy I acquired was plagued throughout with videoaudio glitches which made the whole experience of watching the film even less enthusing!
Review by MARIO GAUCI from the Internet Movie Database.