View Full Version : Darren McGavin, R.I.P. (The Challenge, c.1971)


soundmotor
02-27-2006, 06:18 PM
Darren McGavin, my fave since his Kolchak days & seen every year now in "A Christmas Story" by my familiy, also passed this weekend. He will be missed.

Does anyone else remember the film I am going to describe? At least up to now, no one that I have ever brought this up to can recall it. McGavin was in one of the most incredible movies I've ever seen and sadly, it was a made for TV film as well as controversial. It may even be lost at this point.

The film was called "The Challenge" and McGavin played a mercenary dispatched to a pacific island to battle his opposite from China. They were fighting over a downed satellite and rather than start a world war, the US & China fought the battle with chosen proxies. McGavin had really interesting gear such as a twin submachine gun that he could select either solid shot or bird shot from as well as an elaborate array of booby traps. His opponent was similarly armed.

During the "battle", he came to respect his opponent & when the Chinese send another in to influence the outcome, his opponent kills his own countryman on account of fairness. McGavin does the same thing later when a USN Seal comes ashore & kills the Chinese opponent. At this point McGavin is dying of a raging infection he had gotten earlier from one of the opponents booby traps. Rather than call in that he is the last man standing, he dies with a "fuck it" style epithet. That is how it ends, with him holding the tranmitter, conscious of what is going on and willfully deciding not to let the US know he has won.

This was not a "pro" anything kind of film. As it came at the peak of the Viet Nam war (indeed, for the movie plot McGavin had served several tours there prior to becoming a mercenary) and was made in 1971, it surprised me when I saw it and surprises me now recalling it that it (A), got made at all, & (B), was made for TV! I would sure love to see it again.

Has anyone else ever seen "The Challenge"?

kcollins4
02-27-2006, 07:08 PM
I rememeber that! I loved it. Only saw it that one time. He kept getting cut up by razor blades the other guy had rigged all over the jungle. I was in the seventh grade and I thought it was cool. The weapons were kinda futuristic.

kcollins4
02-27-2006, 07:50 PM
Did a little googling, and it seems several people are interested in getting a copy of it, but no one's been successful. Here's some trivia. The director is listed as Alan Smithee, which is actually a ficticious name. The same name has been used by several directors since the 60's when they don't want to be associated with a particular, possibly bad, film.

soundmotor
02-27-2006, 09:38 PM
I rememeber that! I loved it. Only saw it that one time. He kept getting cut up by razor blades the other guy had rigged all over the jungle. I was in the seventh grade and I thought it was cool. The weapons were kinda futuristic.

Bingo!

That's it. He got cut when he climbed up a tree to get the gear he had stashed.

Andyman
02-27-2006, 09:57 PM
The director is listed as Alan Smithee, which is actually a ficticious name. The same name has been used by several directors since the 60's when they don't want to be associated with a particular, possibly bad, film.

Actually, there's quite a bit credited to Smithee.
Here's the Wikipedia link:

Alan Smithee in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Smithee)

Cosmic Charlie
02-28-2006, 06:55 AM
I'm a big fan, of the actor. Never saw the movie. I never missed an episode of Night stalker, I think thats the name of the TV series. If memory serves, he played kind of a bumbling, almost cowardice reporter, with a heart of gold. He always solved the mystery in 60 mins. CC