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The Lost Patrol

USA 1934
produced by
John Ford, Merian C. Cooper (executive) for RKO
directed by John Ford
starring Victor McLaglen, Boris Karloff, Wallace Ford, Reginald Denny, J.M. Kerrigan, Billy Bevan, Alan Hale, Brandon Hurst, Douglas Walton, Sammy Stein, Howard Wilson, Paul Hanson
screenplay by Dudley Nichols, based on the story Patrol by Philip MacDonald, adaptation by Garrett Fort, music by Max Steiner

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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World War 1, the deserts of Mesopotamia: When the commander of a patrol through the desert is shot dead by the unseen enemy, the command goes to Sarge (Victor McLaglen), who has no idea about the mission of the patrol or even its exact route. All he does know for sure is that he and his patrol are surrounded by enemies they never even see.

Fortunately, they make it to an oasis before nightfall, but the next day, one of their guards (Douglas Walton), a young soldier full of hope, is found killed, and the soldiers horses are stolen - which leaves them with the task of trying to hold the oasis, which consists of a few palmtrees, a pond and a badly built shack - while the enemy has all of the desert to die in. In the following days, Sarge's soldiers die like flies, shot by the enemy, lured into traps and the like.

Eventually, the number of soldiers is down to three, Sarge, Morelli (Wallace Ford) and bible-thumping Sanders (Boris Karloff), who has long gone mad and had to be tied up. Then they are spotted by an airplane that even lands nearby, but when the pilot (Howard Wilson) gets out, he's shot almost instantly - bad luck indeed, but at least Sarge and Morelli are able to retrieve the machine gun from the plane, even if it almost costs them their lives doing so. But now they at least have a fighting chance. Thing is, Sanders has since freed himself, and now wanders off into the desert carrying a cross in his religious craze. Morelli goes after him to drag him back, out of harm's way, but ultimately they are both shot dead.

With only one man left standing, the enemies finally dare to emerge from beyond the dunes - but they haven't taken into account Sarge's machine gun, and he mows them all down in some kind of killing frenzy ... only minutes before another British patrol comes by looking for him and his men.

 

Rather intense (on a psychological level) and well-made war film that profits not only from an very interesting story full of well fleshed-out characters but also from its great desert settings and the simple but clever directorial ploy to never show the enemy (until the very last minute) to add an aura of unease to everything that is happening. A great cast of course doesn't hurt either.

One of John Ford's best films from the 1930's (at least).

 

By the way: Philip MacDonald's novel Patrol was previously filmed asaq silent feature in Britain in 1929 as Lost Patrol (Walter Summers), with Victor McLaglen's younger brother Cyril playing the role of Sarge.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD