A Second Look at a Forgotten Screen Gem: 1981’s ‘Green Ice’

Green Ice (1981) tells the tale of an electronics engineer (Ryan O’Neal) and his gal pal (Anne Archer) who travel to South America, where they become involved in a plot to rob an emerald smuggler (Omar Sharif) of his fortune. The film was financed by Lew Grade who called it “quite a nice little film, but in the end, too much like a TV movie.” While this Lew Grade (or low grade?) production is never going to be called a neglected classic, upon re-watching for the first time in over 20 years, I found it to be a great deal smarter than I originally thought it was.
A typically lazy Ryan O’Neal performance as a drifting electronics expert/gigolo, doesn’t bring that much to the party. His character is seemingly intent in showing more skin than his co-star/love-interest Anne Archer, but the plot ticks away nicely.
A daring roof-top balloon heist of a state-of-the-art emerald vault presages Ocean’s 13, whilst O’Neal’s home-made security system could have influenced the FX movies and Iron Man III.  That is if anyone had seen it. The movie was shot on location in Mexico. The original director, Anthony Simmons, left the project during filming and was replaced by Ernest Day, the second unit director.
Baddie Omar Sharif’s role is interesting. As an emerald tycoon exploiting the South American natives and paying the army to execute the rebels, he is desperate to rejoin the diamond cartel he was kicked out of for contravening their strict rules, and he is constantly monitored to make sure he remains in exile.
Standout scenes: Archer’s deception to gain his voice patterns for the vault is pretty good. And a haul of emeralds is lost in a scene that probably wouldn’t be in the movie now, as everyone tends to get away with a heist (except Triple Frontier).
There’s a surprisingly good score by former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, which channels film composers Legrand and Morricone. That being said, the instrumental version of his UK hit single  ‘Si Si, Je Suis Un Rock Star‘ grates after the umpteenth airing during the picture.
There’s also this very Bondian title sequence from Maurice Binder:

Green Ice (1981) Opening Titles

Watch it now via Youtube or Tubi for free.

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Stephen Arnell

Culture Comment Content Provider. Portrait courtesy of artist Darren Coffield. 'Non satis me tempo'