The Last Valley is a disappointing 17th- century period melodrama about the fluid and violent loyalties attendant on major civil upheaval. Shot handsomely abroad for about $6 million and top-featuring Michael Caine and Omar Sharif in strong performances, James Clavell’s film emerges as heavy cinematic grand opera in tab version format, too literal in historical detail to suggest artfully the allegories intended and, paradoxically, too allegorical to make clear the actual reality of the Thirty Years War.
Clavell adapted a J.B. Pick novel in which Sharif, neither peasant nor nobleman, is fleeing the ravages of war and finds a valley still spared from cross-devastation. Caine, hard-bitten leader of mercenaries, also discovers the locale. At Sharif’s urging Caine decides to live in peace for the winter with the residents, headed by Nigel Davenport and an uneasy truce develops.
The fatuous political and religious and social rationalizations of behavior get full exposition. But the whole entity doesn’t play well together as Clavell’s script often halts for declamations.