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An exciting adventure film, with good battle scenes, interesting characters, stirring renditions of "Le Boudin" (the signature march of the Legion) and the little known and sexy Elizabeth Taylor lookalike Marla English, as the "Arab" princess. It seems like the Legion outpost is a modified "wild west" set and Marla and her maidservant's costumes appear to be reworked Mexican cowgirl outfits. Entirely apropos for the unintentionally hilarious love scenes with the Legion commandant (Ralph Meeker). Her brother, the sheikh, has a prep school accent, but it's not quite as bad as the Brooklynese dialect of Richard Conte's villain sheikh in 1953's "Desert Legion" ("Det ta da lejun!"). Mama Mia!!
The legionnaires are uncharacteristically complacent. After all, this is 1955 and the tribes just don't surround and attack Legion forts a la Beau Geste anymore. Not! They get a rude awakening when Marla and her brother; who believe their father was murdered by the French; unite the desert tribes and wipe out a column of legionnaires. The film does have some reality deficits. Even though it is the 1950s there isn't a motor vehicle in sight, although the new commandant arrives at the fort by helicopter, and the radio man is building a television set. The rifles carried by the legionnaires were over 20 years out of date at the time, and rifle grenades can't blow up buildings. But, this is an escapist actioner with some unintended laughs thrown in, not a History Channel Special. In that respect, it really hits the spot. It even begins with a sultry, James Bondish theme song!
I recently saw this movie for the first time since the early 70s (on TMC) and I find it hard to believe that it was never put on commercial video.
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