- Directed by John Ford.
- Music by Max Steiner.
- “MESOPOTAMIA – 1917”
- So there are these British soldiers who are fighting an unseen Arab army, which almost always attacks at night. (Or so they say.)
- To begin the movie, the soldier within the patrol who is carrying their orders is sniped by an invisible Arab, & dies instantly. Rather inconveniently for the patrol, Sonny Boy Soldier The Sniped refused to write down his orders, & only carried them in his head – always promising to share them with The Sergeant (Victor McLaglen) “tomorrow.” Brilliant, right?
- Bell: “Where are going now? What are we gonna do?”
The Sergeant: “Well, we’re lost.”
- We’re 20 minutes in, and nothing of note has happened yet. All of the lines are both written & delivered so matter-of-factly – it’s boring to listen to.
- They don’t have more than one person or some shift trade-off system overnight??? They leave this one newbie soldier called Pearson (Douglas Walton) on watch duty, and when they wake up the next morning, they’re all like, ‘Dag! Pearson’s been knifed in the back & also all of our horses have been stolen! This is so upsetting!’
- And…the over-acting award for 1934 goes to: Boris Karloff, for the role of Sanders.
- Next, one of the men (Hale? Played by Billy Bevan) is like, ‘I’ll climb to the top of one of these palm trees & see if I can spot anything worthwhile!’ Up he goes…and promptly gets shot “straight through the head” and dies.
I’m sensing a pattern here within the plot, you guys.
- Next, The Sergeant’s like, ‘Let’s draw straws & send a pair of people to find help. MacKay (? I think. Played by Paul Hanson) & Cook (Alan Hale) go. Roughly 10 minutes later (in movie time), they are dead, dragged back to camp on horses.
- Then, Abelson (Sammy Stein) starts experiencing some sort of vertigo, & stumbles inexplicably out into the desert (in the daylight) and … gets shot within 5 seconds.
- Next, in response to the now-deceased Cook & MacKay being killed, Quincannon (J.M. Kerrigan) decides to run angrily towards no one in particular, out into the dunes, & gets shot dead within 5 seconds.
- WTF is this movie?!
- “Lets make a movie where a bunch of sweaty guys hang out in the desert, and every 7 minutes, one of them gets shot dead.”
Why, y’all? Why?
- Bell (Brandon Hurst) is also dead. I forgot.
- The Sergeant: Sanders, stop being a psycho & threatening to kill Morelli in an effort to convince him that Jesus is real…and go relieve Brown of his watch.
Sanders: Yeah, okay. Oh…btw – Brown’s gone.
The Sergeant: WHAT?
Sanders: Yep – he left. He left you a note of farewell in my bible, though!
(No, that exchange did not happen. But the scene did!)
- Two of the three left, The Sergeant & Morelli (Wallace Ford), decide to talk about their pre-soldier lives. Morelli’s like, ‘I was in love with this girl named Jessie. She was the star of a high-wire act, and one night the wire broke and she fell to her death.’ The Sergeant’s like, ‘Yeah, I was married. But she died. We had a son. I really hated him for most of his life…but now he’s okay.’
- OH MY GOD. I am so over this movie.
- A small plane flies over their camp! They yell at it! The plane lands! They yell at the pilot to take cover because he’s landed in open desert! They yell at him to – – too late. He already got shot dead.
- Once you realize Sanders is a certifiably crazy NUTCASE, Karloff’s over-acting becomes slightly more bearable.
- Victor McLaglen is the best part of this movie – he rocks his part with intensity & authority & it’s fabulous.
- Oh, but guess what. Sanders just built himself a makeshift cross & marched to the top of a dune. (Yep, he got shot dead immediately.) Morelli was like, ‘No, Sanders, NOOOOO!’ and tried to stop him – but instead of stopping him…surprise! He also got shot dead.
- The ending scene where it’s just The Sergeant left & you finally see the Arabs & he shoots them all dead while laughing boisterously is awesome. I’m not one for gratuitous violence, but McLaglen made that scene.
- I have no plans to ever watch this movie again, y’all. Victor McLaglen’s five-minutes-of-glory performance does not make up for the rest of the drabness. People just get shot repeatedly by an enemy you can’t see, and you really don’t give a fuck about them dying, because you have no idea who they are!
- John Ford’s trademark short, blunt, to-the-point style of directing did not really benefit this movie, I don’t think.
- Everyone LOVES this film & says it is a brilliant classic.
‘Cause like…I just didn’t like it that much.