After World War II, ex-soldiers trickle into French Saigon to join the Foreign Legion, among them American Whit Corbett and German Carl Reicher. Is Reicher really SS war criminal Martin Bruner, and is Corbett after him? Art dealer Van Ratten and nightclub chanteuse Lili Maubert are also more than they seem. Action scenes include anti-guerilla jungle warfare. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Good action film depicting the Foreign Legion in Indochina
One of the few Foreign Legion films that takes the Legion out of the desert. The Legion was instrumental in the conquest of Indochina in the 1880s, and fought a bloody, futile war in a vain attempt to retain it, from 1946-54. In the late 40s, the French government prohibited sending conscripts to serve in Indochina, so the Foreign Legion was greatly expanded. A major falsehood presented by the film is the great effort made by former SS enlistees to conceal their past, since the French were said to execute any they discovered. The reverse was in fact true, and the French actively (though covertly) sought out and recruited former Wehrmacht and SS men. For the first time in the Legion's history, large enlistment bonuses were paid and former officers and senior noncoms were advanced to sergeant upon completion of training and a short probation period. Jobs were hard to come by in postwar Germany, and the French eagerly made use of this large pool of disciplined, fully trained professional killers. Just the thing for a dirty, distant, unpopular war.
Dick Powell joins the Legion to find a wanted SS war criminal. Despite the above, most of the movie is quite realistic and fast moving. There are good action, and even training sequences, and the atmosphere is appropriately gritty and depressing. The legionnaires are depicted with American M1 rifles. This was accurate in the early part of the war. Ironically, these were later replaced by inferior and obsolete French equipment.
An interesting mix of war movie and film noir done reasonably well.
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