‘Hart come Hart: Harts in High Season’ (1996): Penultimate reunion movie clunky, but enjoyable

A worthy villain for the Harts and also some spiffy Australian locales smooth end this bunglesome retread mystery.

You are watching: Hart to hart harts in high season

By Paul Mavis

The penultimate Hart come Hart reunion movie, Hart come Hart: Harts in High Season, premiered on The family Channel top top Sunday, march 24th, 1996. As I’ve created before, i missed every one of these Hart come Hart reunion movies when very first aired…but what did ns watch the night? Looking back at part old TV listings for the Sunday 23 year (!) ago, ns surely skipped Beau Bridges’ boooooorrrriiiiiing amnesiac TV movie top top CBS (should he choose Tess Harper or Pam Dawber? five Mary—what a dilemma…), and also probably captured Veronica Hamel’s true-crime an enig on alphabet (I had a point for her ever because Beyond the Poseidon Adventure. Yep.).

(Mill Creek Entertainment has released every eight Hart come Hart reunion movies in a brand-new DVD collection.)

Click come order Hart to Hart – Movies room Murder Collection in ~ Amazon.

In their personal Lear jet, high above Australia, Jennifer and Jonathan Hart (Stefanie Powers, Robert Wagner) flirt and banter with each other as they lay the end their following adventure: Jennifer is primed for a six-hour Wagner opus in ~ the well known Sydney Opera House, and Jonathan is keen to acquisition the world’s largest private game reserve because that his animal-loving wife. Who the seller? None other than millionaire Elliott Manning (James Brolin), a previous flame the Jennifer’s—in fact, he’s the male she was last dating prior to Jonathan come in and also swept her off she feet.

Well…he-man hunter Manning has actually never forgotten that defeat. His financial empire is on shaky ground, and also selling turn off the keep at a premium price will afford him sufficient cash to scoot turn off to places unknown. He likewise wants Jennifer back, despite his having a partnership with beautiful assistant, Lisa Brandt (Ursula Karven). Jennifer of food is not in the the very least bit interested in cheating top top Jonathan, let alone leaving him, so Manning has another plan: framework Jonathan for his own “murder,” with the help of his extremely big and threatening indigenous guide, Tonga (Emanuel Yarborough). Will the Harts have the ability to clear Jonathan’s name? will they acquire any assist from mysterious restaurateur Bully (Simon Westaway)? and also will they survive their final challenge: being pursued by Manning ~ above his video game preserve?

By this point in the Hart to Hart reunion movie timeline, i’ve pretty much quit expecting to view an yes, really “mystery,” or a plot that could fool me, or personalities that might rise above familiar convention. And Hart to Hart: Harts in High Season did nothing to change that now-weary resignation. If you’ve ever read The many Dangerous Game, or seen among its myriad cinematic and TV adaptations and rip-offs, you’ll be clued right into this movie’s finale the second James Brolin waggles his dyed eyebrows in former of every those stuffed animal heads. Ns guess that sort of slack method is okay as lengthy as the movie entertains—and Harts in High Season, walk (in the fashion)—but again, ns can’t help but wish someone had stepped in and delivered miscellaneous solid because that Wagner and also Powers. After ~ all…how numerous chances were they going to have to star in this reunion movies?

What’s v Harts in High Season’s best drawback: the tired direction? Helmer Christian I. Nyby II guided literally numerous TV episodes and made-for-TV movies over his 40+ year job (everything from those Perry Mason reunion movies everyone liked, to Emergency!, CHiPs, The A-Team, Diagnosis: Murder, and yes…my wife’s favorite (jesus): B.J. And also the Bear). So if ns can’t ask for something more than boring head-and-shoulders framing and also A-B-C editing (I understand it’s a TV movie through a quick schedule and little budget—I gain it), then deserve to I in ~ least obtain a veteran director to no mangle some possibly amusing, potentially exciting scenes?

Scripter Mart Crowley is back, and also while he doesn’t exactly supply a boatload of ship laughs (Wagner scores the greatest yock when abruptly leaving the opera, flatly telling the automobile valet: “It’s in German…they don’t tell you that, execute they,”), Crowley walk crib together some small-scale, genre-ready collection pieces the should have presented evident opportunities because that the manager to amuse and also excite the viewer. Exactly how do us not check out either the fake “death” of Brolin, or at least a sequence of his (?) body components being uncovered (a seemingly tiny detail, but a crucial visual anchor for the viewer)? The ferry boat sequence, where J & J drop turn off the ransom, has actually been supplied in hundreds of movies choose this…so why does the come turn off so clunky here, with amateur night in Dixie staging (hysterically, everyone is an alleged to be doing their point on the sly…four feet far from everyone else law the very same thing).

Or how about a scene that could be worthy of Hitchcock: Jennifer distracting the cops with her spectacular legs, if Jonathan rifles a personal report? appears a natural, right? Nyby, though, supposedly doesn’t know where to allude the camera, nor how to tell powers where—or what—to relocate (I recognize what…). As for the supposedly terrifying finale…things couldn’t acquire just a bit more physical, perhaps? after ~ all, we’ve been primed because that this large hunt showdown for virtually an hour and a half—is it yes, really going to end prior to it starts, featuring just shots that the ethics running follow me outback paths, with the occasional cartoony obstacle stopping them (that gator gag lifted native Live and also Let Die; Tonga’s unintentionally hilarious boomerang throw). Hey, I’m no asking for Indiana Jones…but I’m no willing to resolve for Gilligan and Jonathan Kincaid, either (look that up).

Luckily, Harts in High Season has James Brolin along as the villain. A TV/movie vet top top par v Powers’ and also Wagner’s experience and also stature, Brolin is always much more enjoyable play giggling psychos than his an ext staid outings (he’s a blast in exploitation title Skyjacked or The Amityville Horror…and a bored, bearded stubborn in miscellaneous straight and romantic prefer Hotel).

Powers and Wagner benefit from having actually this kind of pro as your nemesis, v both gibbs noticeably upping their energy levels whenever Brolin is in the step (Powers go well with poised, increasing incredulity, repelling Brolin’s unwanted dinner date pass, if a quietly steamed Wagner is terrific in his two major confrontation scenes v the actor). If great Australian gibbs Simon Westaway had been offered a bit an ext to do here (and had his twist revelation at the finish been much less predictable), his teaming up v Brolin would have provided Harts in High Season an also sharper edge. Still…if Harts in High Season’s an enig can’t deliver, and also its direction just lays there, we have the right to at least enjoy the Australian scenery, and also take a little bit of satisfied in the town hall Powers and also Wagner ultimately have an acting devil worthy the their own skills.

PAUL MAVIS IS AN internationally PUBLISHED MOVIE and also TELEVISION HISTORIAN, A MEMBER the THE online FILM movie critics SOCIETY, and also THE writer OF THE ESPIONAGE FILMOGRAPHY. Click come order.

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