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THE SAILOR WHO FELL FROM GRACE WITH THE SEA starring SARAH MILES, KRIS KRISTOFFERSON, JONATHAN KAHN, MARGO CUNNINGHAM, EARL RHODES and PAUL TROPEA

This 1976 drama was a bold endeavor for writer-director Lewis John Carlino (SECONDS, THE BROTHERHOOD). THE SAILOR WHO FELL FROM GRACE WITH THE SEA is Carlino's adaptation of a novella set in post-World War II Japan by Yukio Mishima, a prolific 20th century author who tried to revive the Bushido code of samurai honor and committed ritual suicide in 1970. Mishima was a grand literary force, considered several times for the Nobel Prize and was lauded as the 'Japanese Hemingway' by Life Magazine. Indeed, it says a great deal about his writings that Carlino was able to transport the novella's ideas to a modern English setting.

SAILOR focuses on Anne Osborne, a lonely widow and antiques dealer played by Sarah Miles. The middle-aged woman lives with her sea-loving, teenaged son Jonathan (Jonathan Kahn) in an English coastal town. Well into the rebellious phase of life, Jonathan finds himself without an adult male influence and backs a schoolmate known only as Chief (Earl Rhodes), who runs a secret club with four other boys as his underlings. This club is not the usual fun-and-games of children, however; Chief is the precocious son of a town surgeon and looks to teach the four members his nihilistic points of view (morality, he feels, is just a set of rules that adults invented to control the world). So dedicated is the boy to his values that he even autopsies the family cat to prove an idea about existence.

Providing Jonathan with a new role model is Jim Cameron (Kris Kristofferson), an American sailor who docks into port and has a change meeting with Anne. The two fall in love almost immediately and Jonathan discovers a man who fits Chief's description of 'a heart of steel' - a man who travels the Earth and overcomes great odds. However, Jonathan feels betrayal as the love affair between Anne and Jim thickens; his hero decides to stay in England and remain tied to the soil. It's only Jonathan and his friends who can restore Jim's 'grace' with the sea from which he came.

One of SAILOR’s technical strong points is its broad, languid pacing that has a feel similar to waves of the sea. Cinematographer Douglas Slocombe offers breathtaking images of ocean, sunrise, and house interiors that compare with still-life paintings. Adding to the rich visuals is a lean, chilly score by Johnny Mandel (with themes by Kristofferson) that captures the film's underlying ideas. The entire cast is superb, especially the children headed by Jonathan Kahn (who had a brief screen career). Sarah Miles conveys a wide range of emotion and has a physical elegance that is ideal for her role. Kristofferson was an excellent choice for the Jim Cameron figure, a rugged, brooding individual whose tales of sea life feel authentic. Of vital importance is the chemistry between Miles and Kristofferson, which must be strong for the film to work. Unlike inferior films that produce a cardboard love affair, Anne and Jim's rapport is solid and nothing less than convincing.

THE SAILOR WHO FELL FROM GRACE WITH THE SEA is a unique, daring film.

WIDESCREEN

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