6.7/10
148
9 user 4 critic

Sword in the Desert (1949)

Approved | | Action, Drama, History | 31 October 1949 (Sweden)
In 1947, with only months remaining until the partition of British-administered Palestine, an American freighter captain smuggles European Jewish refugees ashore under the nose of the British authorities.

Director:

George Sherman

Writer:

Robert Buckner
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dana Andrews ... Mike Dillon
Märta Torén ... Sabra
Stephen McNally ... David Vogel
Jeff Chandler ... Asvan Kurta
Philip Friend ... Lt. Ellerton
Hugh French ... Maj. Sorrell
Liam Redmond ... Jerry McCarthy
Lowell Gilmore ... Maj. Stephens
Stanley Logan Stanley Logan ... Col. Bruce Evans
Hayden Rorke ... Capt. Beaumont
George Tyne ... Dov
Peter Coe ... Tarn
Paul Marion Paul Marion ... Jeno
Marten Lamont Marten Lamont ... Capt. Fletcher (as Martin Lamont)
David Wolfe ... Gershon
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Storyline

Cynical freighter captain Mike Dillon hopes to take the money and run after helping to smuggle Jewish refugees ashore in pre-Israel Palestine. But against his will, he's drawn into the escalating fight between British occupation forces and the founders of Israel. In a battle doubly terrible because the audience sympathizes with both sides, how long can Mike remain a bystander? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Their story is written in the burning sands and Bullets Sing the Fame of Their Deeds !

Genres:

Action | Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jeff Chandler, a Jew whose real name was Ira Grossel, was extremely proud of his Jewish heritage. Kurta was the only explicitly Jewish character he ever got to play in his career. See more »

Quotes

Col. Bruce Evans: What an extraordinary people. Do they think we relish our position as policemen in this god-forsaken land?
Maj. Stephens: Perhaps they prefer that we forsake it, Sir - and let God police it.
Col. Bruce Evans: But we have agreed to leave, if they can reach an agreement with the Arabs on partition. But if we pull out before there's an agreement between them, the entire Middle East may go up in flames. And with it, the world. No, Stephens, this isn't a Jewish or Arab or British problem. This is the problem of all mankind.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Young Man with a Horn (1950) See more »

User Reviews

So accurate, the British government tried to limit distribution.
3 August 2003 | by DaveP-7See all my reviews

This is another movie I haven't seen in years, although it was last broadcast on AMC. (Despite the setting, it was filmed on the California coast.) Unfortunately, they have not said when, or if, they plan to re-air it.

The story line is quite true-to-life, insofar as historical fiction can be. The number of non-Jewish volunteers helping the Haganah during the Jewish struggle against the British mandate was quite amazing, and they did so for a variety of reasons, from a sense of justice, to Zionist motives, to a desire to get a 'lick in' at England.

British imperial duplicity was so accurately depicted here, that, when the movie was released, the British government protested that it slandered Her Majesty's government. Methinks they didst protest too much.

In reality, there were Brits in the Mandatory Administration who favored the Jewish struggle for an independent homeland, as there were those who favored the Arabs, but most saw it as a foreign posting in their careers, a job to be done fairly, but always with an eye to Britain's interests, even as they protested that they were acting on behalf of the 'natives'.

A complex time, reduced to a movie whose verisimilitude is striking. The Haganah exploits depicted, such as the blowing up of all bridges (not that there were that many) at the borders of Mandatory Palestine, and the announcement of the High Commissioner's replacement (before he learned of it) did happen.

This is the earliest movie about the Ha'apalah, the illegal immigration into Mandatory Palestine before the independence of the State of Israel. Other movies set in the same time and place are Kirk Douglas' "The Juggler" and "Cast a Giant Shadow".

I can only hope it becomes available on video or CD, as I would like to see it again.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

31 October 1949 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Desert Legion See more »

Filming Locations:

Monterey, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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