If Green Fire doesn’t do anything wonderful, then it also doesn’t do anything terribly. It’s serviceable movie formula from the MGM movie factory – part romance, part adventure, exotic setting and photogenic movie stars, plot be damned! Who needs you anyway?
You get the full rollout with lovely cinematography and lavish sets, but they’re populated by the faintest sketch of characters and given nothing of interest or wit to say. The basics of the story concern two miners looking for emeralds, a haughty heiress who runs a coffee plantation and some local banditos in the Colombian wilderness. Throw in some natural disasters and a few man-made ones and what you’re left with is a glorified B-movie (maybe even a C-list one).
The parts work fine, but nothing really shines brightly. The stars all seem miscast for this kind of film and for their roles. Grace Kelly was a hard actress to put into a believable role – she always seemed too glamorous, serene and chic to be a real woman, and making her a plantation owner in Latin America only highlights the artifice of her persona. Stewart Granger is workman-like if unremarkable, attractive but dull as a leading man. And the romance between the two of them lacks serious heat. Paul Douglas was a great character actor, but he excelled in urban melodramas and light comedies. Granger and Douglas generate some minor comedic back-and-forth, and in a better film that showcased their talents they may have made a pleasing duo to spend two hours with. Sticking these three in the wilds of Columbia leaves them obviously adrift.
And the direction is decent, but never sparkles or adds anything new to make this film standout. No matter how much money went into the window-dressing, Green Fire practically squeaks with the formula machinations moving along on a rusty track before finally winding down. A few suggestions to have improved the film: keep the location and the bit about the emeralds, ditch the love story, re-cast the two male leads.