December 09, 1985 12:00 PM

Why would anyone offer the lead in this woeful comedy adventure to Richard Chamberlain? More puzzling still, why would Chamberlain, with a substantial career going for him at 50, accept such a dumb role? This project bears no resemblance to the 1950 version of the H. Rider Haggard story about adventurers searching for Solomon’s mythical riches. That film reeked with dignity, from the lead performers, Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr, to the Masai (who staged a memorable dance sequence), to the plains animals (filmed by Robert Surtees in a spectacular stampede). In this movie everything is camped up, far past even the playful tone of Romancing the Stone. Sharon (Irreconcilable Differences) Stone, who plays Chamberlain’s love interest, is a student of the Bo Derek school of acting, and a dropout at that. Her reading of the line, “Where’s my father, you cheap-suited camel jockey?” is a film milestone. Director J. Lee Thompson, whose light touch has been previously exhibited in The Guns of Navarone and the Charles Bronson epic Cabo Blanco, offers a glimmer of hope when some cannibals dump Chamberlain, Stone and a batch of vegetables into a huge pot set over a fire. Just our luck, though. They escape, leaving only the audience to stew. (PG-13)

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