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On the Run (1983)

Rod Taylor plays Mr. Payatta, a professional hit man who travels the world to take out notorious bad guys then returns quietly to his rural Australian home. It is one of the rare occasions that Rod played an Australian in an Australian movie.

"On the Run" -- also known as "Nowhere to Hide" -- opens with Payatta putting a bullet into the head of a good guy for a change. He returns home and is greeted warmly by all the townsfolk, who have no idea about his this "other" career. They know him only as a pillar of their community, where he runs a successful horse ranch.

The only one who knows better is Harry (Paul Winfield), who Payatta pays to work with his horses and keep his secrets. Harry has secrets of his own to keep, too -- he is an escaped convict, a fugitive from the United States.

Into this mix enters Paul (Beau Cox), a 10-year-old French orphan who apparently is Payatta's nephew. Other unexpected "guests" include two blackmailers who have photographs of Payatta carrying out his latest hit.

When the boy sees Payatta kill the blackmailers, the "on the run" portion of the movie begins. Harry takes Paul away to protect him, with Payatta giving chase.

The natural warmth that Taylor exudes has always made it hard to accept him in villainous roles. There's a spark of menace toward the end of "On the Run," in the final scenes of confrontation, but this may be one of Taylor's most unconvincing attempts at playing the heavy.

Also, despite Taylor's top billing and central part in the plot, the film is focused on the bonding between Harry and Paul as they attempt to flee Payatta. Because the boy speaks no English, the "conversation" between the two is actually a monologue, as the man recalls his past and examines his character.

Fans looking for a Rod Taylor film will find that this is much more a Paul Winfield vehicle.

In "Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood," author Stephen Vagg wrote that "On the Run" was never intended to have a theatrical release, according to Richard Hindley, the movie's editor. Hindley said the director, Mende Brown, was "very television." But the movie had one screening at a Bondi theater to qualify for a tax concession before it was sold to television.




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