During the Great War, a Negro corporal, Jericho Jackson, disobeys an order and saves crewmen trapped below deck after an attack. A sergeant dies in the incident; Jackson is court-martialed and sentenced to death. He bolts, and his captain unjustly gets a five-year sentence for aiding his escape; the captain vows to bring Jackson to justice. Meanwhile, Jackson has stolen a boat and sailed from Bordeaux to Morocco where his skills as a physician give him a new lease on life. He becomes a chief responsible for negotiating peace among tribes and leading the annual great salt caravan. A confrontation with his old captain is, however, unavoidable. Can there be justice? Written by
Paul Robeson is in fine voice in this passable musical drama about a GI escaping to a desert after he accidentally killed a man.
Paul Robeson shines as a GI who disobeys orders to abandon a torpedoed ship in order to pry loose a door and free 6 fellow Negro soldiers. He punches his sergeant, who falls and hits his head and dies, while Robeson continues his effort and succeeds in rescuing the men. His captain, Henry Wilcoxon, stands up for him at a hearing, declaring it would be unjust to punish a man for a heroic deed. But the major in charge disagrees, since Robeson disobeyed orders and struck a superior officer. He is put under arrest pending a court-martial. On Christmas Eve, Wilcoxon lets Robeson out of his cell to join fellow soldiers at a Christmas songfest, but Robeson escapes in a small boat, befriending Wallace Ford, the only other person in the boat. They head for Africa and Robeson starts a new happy life in the desert, marrying Princess Kouka, who bears him two children. Meanwhile, Wilcoxon is court-martialed for complicity in the escape and sentenced to Leavenworth for five years. When he gets out, his only object in life is to find and bring back Robeson, who could clear hum of the complicity charge. Wilcoxon accidentally sees Robeson in a newsreel some explorers shot while in Africa, and he goes to bring him back.
Two original songs were written for Robeson, whose rich baritone voice is always a pleasure to hear. There's also a bit of adventure in the film, as Robeson leads a 12-mile-long caravan of camels trekking to an area to pick up a year's supply of salt. In an exciting sequence, they have to fight off a group of bandits.
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