Action, Drama, Adventure | 120 Mins | Released: 1974
Director: Peter R. Hunt
Starring: Roger Moore, Susannah York, Ray Milland, Bradford Dillman, John Gielgud, Simon Sabela, Marc Smith
Our Rating: 6
Gold is a 1974 thriller film starring Roger Moore and Susannah York and directed by Peter R. Hunt. It was based on the 1970 novel Gold Mine by Wilbur Smith. Moore plays Rod Slater, General Manager of a South African gold mine, who is instructed by his boss Steyner (Bradford Dillman) to break through an underground dike into what he is told is a rich seam of gold. Meanwhile he falls in love with Steyner’s wife Terry, played by York. In the United States, the film was only released as part of a double bill.
The film begins with a tunnel collapse at the Sonderditch mine, in a scene that establishes the courage of Slater and his chief miner, ‘Big King’, and the bond of trust between them. This is contrasted with the contempt with which some other white managers treat the black miners. It is soon revealed that the collapse was no accident, but part of a plan by a London-based criminal syndicate, which includes the mine owner’s son-in-law Manfred Steyner, to destroy the mine so that the syndicate members can profit from share-dealing. This will be done by drilling through a deep underground wall or ‘dyke’ which is all that prevents an adjacent reservoir of water from flooding the mine.
The mine’s General Manager, an accomplice in the plot, was killed in the tunnel collapse. Steyner interviews Slater, who at this stage is Underground Manager, for the now vacant post of General Manager, although the mine owner has another candidate in mind. At this point, Slater first meets Steyner’s wife Terry and is attracted to her, but she does not return his interest. However, Steyner arranges for them to meet again, in the hope that Terry will influence her grandfather, the mine owner, in Slater’s favour. The plan works, with two consequences: Slater becomes General Manager, and he and Terry start a love affair. Slater, unaware of the criminal plan, agrees to carry out the drilling but is cautious enough to plant a safety charge that will block the tunnel in case of a water leak. Steyner knows that Slater is having an affair with his wife, but allows it to continue because it will keep Slater away from the mine, so that the safety charge can be disabled without his knowledge.
While Slater and Terry are holidaying together, the final breach is made in the underground dyke and the mine begins to flood, trapping a thousand workers. Slater hears of the disaster on the radio news and flies with Terry back to the mine. There is a tense scene in which Slater and Big King descend the mine, amidst rising flood waters, to repair the safety charge. They succeed, but only because Big King sacrifices his own life to detonate the charge, letting Slater escape. Meanwhile, Steyner is murdered by Marais, one of his accomplices after they hear on the radio that their plan has unravelled, Marais also crashes and kills himself. This conveniently leaves Terry free to continue her relationship with Slater, as the film ends.
The film was controversially filmed in South Africa under the apartheid regime, with scenes shot at two large mines, Bufflesfontein and West Rand. Some scenes were filmed at Pinewood Studios in London.