Under the Volcano (Huston, 1984)


The tragedy of inaction rears its ugly head during John Huston’s depressing tale of alcoholic English diplomat Geoffrey Fermin (Albert Finney) living in Mexico right before the beginning of WWII. While seemingly drinking himself to death, Finney exhibits some truly impressive and turbulent mood swings and every so often lets out a glimmer of Fermin’s humanity between long gulps of Mescal. Through Huston’s meticulous attention to the local feel and menace, one can clearly see how much he adores the drunken buffoonery and shady brothels more than the poignant themes of guilt and cowardice paralleled between Fermin’s personal actions (or lack thereof) and those of the European governments facing Hitler’s threatening advances. So in the end, Huston’s priorities seem skewed.