Deep in the heart of Africa the British practice bizarre rituals
This adaptation of William Boyds novel, despite a script credit for the author and an enviable cast, is, in many ways, an even worse a travesty than the film version of Bonfire Of The Vanities, shredding satire in favour of sub-Carry On prurience and eschewing political insights in favour of cheap stereotypes.
In the newly-liberated African nation of Kinjanja, British diplomat Morgan Leafy (Friels) is lumbered with insoluble problems. Vice-Consul Fanshawe (John Lithgow), a tyrannical upper class twit, wants Leafy to set up a lucrative oil deal for Britain and also remove the corpse of a lightning-struck servant before a Royal Visit. Adekunle (Louis Gossett Jnr.), the crooked president, wants Leafy to persuade man-of-integrity Dr Alex Murray (Connery) to reverse his veto on a development scheme which will make Adekunle millions. Adding to Leafys problems is a recurrent venereal disease, not to mention his habit of becoming the lust object of the wives and daughters of powerful men, pursued as he is by Mrs Fanshawe (Diana Rigg) and Mrs Adekunle (Whalley-Kilmer).
With Black Robe, Beresford appeared to wake up after a raft of impeccably tasteful but rather dull literary adaptations to make a really exciting film. Here, however, he has flashbacks to the early phase of his career when he made The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie. An unimaginable number of failed jokes depend on people commenting on the size of Leafys willy, while Friels and Lithgow both put on ridiculous English accents and Connery, who gets a turn around the golf course for his troubles, plods warily through it all as if he knew he was on a losing streak.