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What a rather surprisingly pleasant way to spend 65 minutes. Who cares if the plot is a bit far-fetched? Who cares if this takes place in a part of Iraq that is not desert? The premise is rather simple. Three Allied citizens are flying a small plane towards Egypt. Of course, the plane runs out of gas and is forced to land in the wilds of Iraq. The trio is afforded the hospitality of a local sheik, who may not be in sympathy with the Allied cause. To me, the highlight of this film is Paul Cavanagh's acting as the sheik. It may have been hammy, but he has a few marvelous lines and is a delight to watch. The trio does survive, etc. Oh, can someone tell me how five soldiers can fly in what appears to be a two-seat plane? Minor detail!! Nice 'B' flick!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Warner Brothers released their B-movie "Adventure in Iraq" on September
27, 1943. Like many of the studio's low budget movies, this picture
amounted to a remake, drawing its plot from the 1930 film "The Green
Goddess," the second movie that stage actor George Arliss made for
Warner Brother after his debut in 1929 with the biographical epic
Disraeli. Warner Brothers scenarists George R. Bilson and Robert E.
Kent kept most of plot in Scottish writer William Archer's Broadway
play intact. Unlike Archer's stage play or Julien Josephson's "Green
Goddess" screenplay, both of which set the action in the imaginary
kingdom of Rukh, the 1943 Warner Brothers remake left nothing to the
imagination and pointedly established Iraq as the setting in both title
as well as action.
Former Flying Tiger fighter pilot Doug Everett (Warren Douglas) and his two passengers, estranged couple George (John Loder) and Tess Torrence (Ruth Ford) are flying from India en route to Cairo, Egypt, when a cracked cylinder head and a broken fuel line forces to land somewhere in Iraq. When George radios Cairo about their forced landing, he discovers that the tubes are dead and Doug has no spares on board. The three Americans set off on foot and miles later enter an Arab village. Doug believes the inhabitants are a sect of devil worshippers and George nearly cooks their collective geese when he sits on a ceremonial idol of a snake. About that time, Sheik Ahmid Bel Nor (Paul Cavanagh) arrives to welcome them and offers them the hospitality of his palatial residence.
No sooner have the heroes and heroine accustomed themselves to the Sheik's generosity than he reveals that he plans to forfeit their lives because the British are about to kill his three brothers for espionage acts. Sheik Ahmid Bel Nor offers to spare Tess if she will consent to marry him. Of course, Tess refuses. Meanwhile, Doug and George try to bribe the sheik's English butler to wire Cairo of their whereabouts, but Devins (Barry Bernard) has nothing but bad memories about English and does not cooperate with them. As a result, George steals tubes from the Sheik's large radio receiver and replaces the tubes in his plane with them. The Sheik and his armed tribesmen catch them at their plane trying to contact Cairo and a gun battle breaks out. Before he dies from a gunshot wound from one of the Sheik's disciples, George lies to the ruler that he never got through to Cairo. The Sheik and his tribesmen return with Doug and Tess and are about to execute them when a squadron of U.S.A.A.F planes arrive and warn him that they will drop bombs unless he releases his hostages. The gracious Sheik releases Doug and Tess. In the last shot, as in the original, the Sheik decides that Tess would only have proved a nuisance and he is better off without her.
The Production Code Administration file on "Adventure in Iraq" contains only two letters to Warner Brothers. In his August 31, 1942, letter, Breen acknowledged that the PCA had read the final script dated August 27, 1942, and reported that aside from a couple of routine problems that the film met the basic requirements of the Production Code. In the scene where the Sheik's servant girls provide Tess with a wardrobe, however, Breen warned the filmmakers "care must be used in the costuming of these oriental girls at the bath. Also in the undressing scene of Tess in scene 75, care should be used that there is no undue exposure of Tess' person."
The Office of Wartime Information's feature review of "Adventure in Iraq" dated December 21, 1942, noted immediately that it constituted a remake of "The Green Goddess" with the action relocated to Iraq. "This is an unfortunate choice," wrote the analyst, "because Iraq is of strategic importance to the war effort and because the picture they present of that country is a distorted one." The analysts felt that Warner Brothers had ignored several facets of the war effort in "Adventure in Iraq."
The government argued that the filmmakers accused all of Iraq and its inhabitants of not only being pro-Axis but also murderous fiends and the movie could "only serve to alienate a country which is still technically neutral." Worse, because the filmmakers depicted the Arabs as devil worshippers, the analysts feared that such "a presentation is bound to offend the Arabs in other parts of the world who have shown themselves friendly to the Allied cause." While deceiving Iraq and the rest of the world about Arabs, the movie makers had given the American public a distorted picture of the country where Americans were stationed.
Second, "Adventure in Iraq" created a negative impression of the British. The analysts felt that the British came off as villains. Specifically, the OWI-BMP stated, "There is the statement by the Sheik that he was learned to speak English, among other languages, because the British covet his oil lands and he has to protect himself against their designs." The OWI-BMP also interpreted this to mean that had the Sheik not learned English, then the British might have taken advantage of him. Furthermore, the Sheik shows more alacrity to conduct business with the Axis in that they will give him more money than the English. What disturbed the analysts about this anti-British commentary was that the Nazis had disseminated more than enough propaganda about British imperialism and the Axis could exploit this to their own use.
Today "Adventure in Iraq" is a harmless film, but it created quite controversy with U.S. Government censors during its production.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's hard to imagine a worse movie than this for its stupidity and racism. It would take a lengthy essay to go through all the ridiculous stuff, but the following might give the flavour. First, the American jingoism. An entire Arab city or nation, allied with Nazis and enemies of the Allies, is paralysed with awe and fear near the end when a little band of five American soldiers swagger into the city and down the streets, barking at them like menials. The soldiers are ridiculously self-assured, as if protected by the mystical aura of being American, when actually the locals, who have guns, could have dispatched them or torn them to pieces in a second. Luckily, the scriptwriter didn't give the lowly natives the anger they naturally would have had in that situation, or courage, or common sense. In an earlier gunfight, of course, every shot from an American brings down a native, while the natives have to plug away for a long time before hitting anything. Although we hear the Muslim call to prayer several times, these Muslims, or whatever they are, apparently "worship the devil" in the form of a snake god. I guess there was a lot of that in Iraq in the 1940s. The villain, their leader, a Western-educated Arab, speaks in an elaborate, cartoonish imitation of British upper-crust politeness. He even puts on a monocle. He is attracted to the pretty American woman, the brute. Adventure in Iraq is so racist it would make the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan choke. Costumes look like leftovers stitched together from the Persian Nights and the Flash Gordon serials, with a Sikh turban thrown in for the villain, completely absurd for people supposedly living between Syria and Baghdad in the 1940s. The dialogue is often painful. The ending is ridiculous. If this were made for ten-year-olds watching a double feature on a Saturday morning in 1951, much of the nonsense might have been forgivable, but as a movie that adults were expected to cheer over, it's as bad as a movie can get.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This, perhaps is one of the most poorly made films I have ever seen. The plot wasn't all that bad, but crash landing in the "desert" in Iraq (passing through a pine forest) was really a trip! Paul Cavanaugh shines as the only believable character, and his performance made watching the film bearable. It is true that the British used biplanes in that area as there was no real air force to oppose them, but U.S. Navy biplanes flown by USAAF personnel coming to the rescue? Also the appearance of the U.S. personnel was ridiculous, especially the hats and insignia, all poorly done with little attention to detail. All movie makers use stock footage, but this was surely the worst example of this practice.It was surprising to me that Warner Brothers acknowledged participation in this film. A "B" movie? No way.
Paul Cavanagh's performance is enjoyable, but that is really all that makes this film watch-able. It is merely a dumbed-down version of William Archer's play "The Green Goddess"--previously filmed as an early talkie in 1930 and a few years before that as a silent in 1923, both versions starring George Arliss in the Cavanagh role. The story has been slightly updated and the setting has been moved from the fictional mountain nation of Rukh, just north of India, to Iraq (albeit a rather fictional version of Iraq--say what you will of Iraqis, but they are not devil worshipers). In my opinion, this version loses much of the originals' elegance even though it uses much of the play's dialog word for word. The American protagonists in this version are much more brash and far less noble than their English counterparts of the original. I found the Lux Radio version of "The Green Goddess" to be far superior to this WWII rip-off.
When their plane makes a forced landing in the wooded mountains of
Iraq, three b-movie types find themselves at the mercy of a charming,
but thoroughly evil Nazi-loving ruler of a population of Satan
worshipers living in British-run Iraq. Will our two heroes and heroine
survive to tell about their ADVENTURE IN IRAQ?
This lame-o remake of the entertaining George Arliss movie, The Green Goddess, can be enjoyed on a certain kinetic level, if one's sensibilities do not object to the depiction of Iraqis as being devoted to the worship of Satan, and one does not mind a hero who seems to believe that what most people need is a punch in the snout. The thing, like most Warners movies, is very briskly paced, which means that events can be silly or senseless, but they are rarely boring.
But, the problem is, there is not much to like in the leads (one guy is a drunk, for no particular reason, the other guy thinks he's John Wayne and Jimmy Cagney combined, and the gal is cute, competent, and forgettable). But the best illustration on what's gone wrong in this remake is the change in villain from first lead George Arliss (a genuine great actor) to fourth lead Paul Cavanagh (charisma free actor trying desperately not to yield to the ham acting the script cries for). Cavanagh gets plenty of screen time, but he comes across as someone trying to play Tod Slaughter playing a black-hearted Victorian villain, and not quite getting there.
So, one spends a lot of time while watching this film marveling on the insults being dispensed on the Iraqi people and Iraq from folks who clearly know little about it, and could care less. One could almost think some of those folks helped advise W in developing his foreign policy. Because the movie, and Bush's first four years of war have the same level of callous incompetence about it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
You'd think Hollywood would have learned its lesson from "The Shanghai
Gesture", that camp melodrama where a middle aged Brooklyn matron got
electrical shockwaves through her head to make her hair look like
Medusa's while pretending to be a Chinese nightclub owner. At least
that had camp value to it. "Adventure in Iraq", a remake of the George
Arliss silent and early talkie drama "The Green Goddess", is updated to
include Islamic devil worshipers who have an alliance with Hitler, a
cockney British crook who works as a charming but deadly sheik's valet,
and the remaining sets from "Casablanca" which give the impression that
this was made on a high budget. Not much thought was put into the
screenplay which has something pretty much to offend everyone.
The film starts off exactly like "Lost Horizon" with a pilot taking a married couple to Cairo, and turning the flight, the plane conveniently runs out of gas, leaving the pilot (Warren Douglas) and couple (John Loder and Ruth Ford) in the middle of nowhere. They recall seeing a mysterious palace just miles away and make their way into the lavish estate of sheik Paul Cavanaugh where they are invited as guests and then all of a sudden told they are being held in retaliation for the arrest of Cavanaugh's brothers, due to be executed. Cavanaugh makes lascivious advances towards Ford while Douglas and Loder use their cunning to try and get the sleazy valet (Barry Bernard) to send a cable for them.
Fortunately just over an hour in length, this is mindless war era entertainment which unfortunately did nobody any good and allegedly caused some controversy with the Islamic and British governments who found it offensive. It just isn't the Satanistic view of this cult of Iraqi nomads or even the hideous dialog they are forced to speak, but the phony desert environment and Hollywood's misconception of the middle east as some sort of "Arabian Knights" paradise, even in the 20th Century. Today, even the original source is considered dated and offensive, even with George Arliss in the role of the sheik. Cavanaugh tries to utilize charm to make his villain more appealing, but he certainly serves his people falsely by claiming that it is their will which has the guests on the chopping block as a result of his brothers arrest. As ridiculous as the whole plot set-up is, the conclusion makes it even worse, proving that Hollywood's desire to turn out as much war propaganda as it could sometimes did it no favors.
***SPOILERS*** Running out of gas over the vast Syrian desert in
Western Iraq former Flying Tigers pilot Doug Everett, Warren Douglas,
and his passengers Mr. & Mrs. George and Tess Torrence,John Loder &
Ruth Ford, are forced to land. Trying to call for help from the British
military headquarters located in Baghdad Doug finds out that the
batteries, or tubes, of his radio are burnt out. The three then decide
to walk through the burning desert to the nearest Iraqi city called
Ghatsi. When there the trio are taken in and entertained by the cities
ruler Ahmid Be Nor, Paul Cavenagh. Warren & Dough are dressed in white
dinner jackets with black bow ties and Tess is given a complete
makeover to look like an Arabian princess.
Unknown to the three is that their being held hostage and will be killed by Ahmid's men if his three step-brothers, who were working as spies for Nazi Germany, are not allowed to be set free and not be executed the next morning by the British. Ahmid who is a very refined gentlemen, being that he was educated in the most prestigious schools in England, is not into the Devil Cult that his subjects adhere too but is such a worm and coward that he'll play along with them even if it is to murder George Doug & Tess, who he has the hot's for. As for his three crazy and fanatical step-brothers Ahmid feels that a volley of British bullets to their chests is just the right medicine that they need to cure them of their insane ideas.
George and Doug and Tess finally realize what's happening when their confronted by the crazed high priest of the city ,Martin Garralaga, who demands that they be sacrificed to the Devil or Evil One, did he mean by that Saddam Hussain? as soon as the brothers are executed by the British. Ahmid using his British butler Devins, Barry Bernard, to spy on the three and make it look like he wants to escape with them. This has both George and Doug get the drop on him, and drop Devin to his death off the palace balcony, as the two together with Tess make a run for freedom to their disabled plane with a number of radio tubes that they took from Ahmid's short wave radio. Which is used to keep to be in contact with his Nazi allies in Berlin Germany.
After getting to the plane and installing the tubes Doug calls for help and the US sends a squadron of fighter planes. The planes begin to bomb the hell out of Ghatsi and it's surroundings but George is tragically killed by Ahmid's mens during the fighting. Doug and Tess are taken prisoner again and held in the palace to be executed but Ahmid, and his "Fearless Warriors", wets their bloomers as the good old USA fighter planes start to bomb the stuffing out of their city. In the end even the crazed high priest gives in to the mighty US Army Air Force, and has both Doug and Tess released unharmed. With that the gutless and and self-serving Ahmid decides to join the allies in the war against he former friend Germany to save his stinking hide. The Germans learned the hard way the saying that "With friends like Ahmid you don't need enemies" will the USA learn the same thing?
The "Fearless Warriors" of Ghatsi as well as Ahmid and the cities high priest were so scared of the US military that they actually let a number of US servicemen go into the main palace, and direct the air attacks on them, without as much as laying a hand on them. even though scores of their "Fearless Warriors" were getting killed in the bombing that the US servicemen were directing. The bravery and fanaticism of the Ghatsi Devil Cult members, which must have numbered in the thousands, evaporated as soon as the first US bombs fell? Boy things were a lot different in Iraq back then in 1943 then they are there today in 2004.
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