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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A lot of post war politics gets mixed up in Rogue's Regiment, a story about a manhunt for an escaped Nazi war criminal. The plot takes a lot from the Orson Welles classic, The Stranger.
But when Edward G. Robinson is hunting Orson Welles and tracks him to Connecticut he's in the comfort zone of the good old USA even if he doesn't know that Welles is whom he seeks. But Dick Powell as an Army Intelligence Officer tracks his man all the way to Southeast Asia and has to join the French Foreign Legion in order to smoke him out.
Which brings us to the point that Rogue's Regiment can lay claim to the fact that it's the first Hollywood motion picture to talk about the Vietnam War. It wasn't Vietnam then, it was French Indochina where the French are rather foolishly trying to reestablish colonial control. A whole lot of history might have changed in the 20th Century if they had realized colonialism was dead. The rebels were called the Viet Minh then and they were making life very tough for French troops outside their outposts. Six years after this film was made, these same French Foreign Legionaires and regular French Army troops would be surrendering at Dienbienphu. But that's getting way ahead of this story.
The Foreign Legion has been the host to all kinds of criminals and other assorted riff-raff since its founding. They ask no questions when you enlist and Germans, some of whom might have been occupying France, are enlisting. It's here that our man hopes to find anonymity and here to where Dick Powell tracks him down.
With the able assistance of French Intelligence Officer Marta Toren who is working a case of her own, Powell ferrets his man out. In fact he uses the same gambit that Robinson does in The Stranger. There's another well known Nazi in the Legion company and Powell uses him as bait.
Such folks as Stephen McNally, Vincent Price, Edgar Barrier and James Millican fill out the cast in this story set in the then exotic locale of Indochina. Carol Thurston who played the tragic Tremartini in Cecil B. DeMille's The Story Of Dr. Wassell also set in Southeast Asia plays another exotic female in love with the wrong guy.
Though Rogue's Regiment gets a little silly at times, Powell gets captured by the Viet Minh and escapes rather too easily, almost like one of those serials, still the film is generally good. And being a first to talk about the war in Indochina, Rogue's Regiment is a historic milestone of a film.
I doubt though that the folks at Universal Pictures thought they were establishing a milestone.
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