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A group of US Navy weathermen taking measurements in the Gobi desert in World War II are forced to seek the help of Mongol nomads to regain their ship while under attack from the Japanese air force. The Mongols are rewarded by an airlift of the finest saddles. Written by
Peter Fawcett <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Nixon and Fallon, NV were both used as location sites, and Paiute Indians residing on a reservation in Nixon played Mongol extras. See more »
McHale claims that "Gobi Desert" means "wall of spears." Actually, "Gobi" is the Mongolian word for "desert." See more »
[Walter flirts successfully with a Mongolian woman]
Well, looks like you made a hit, Walter my boy. Tell me, how do you do it?
My training as a meterorologist. I can take one look at a girl and tell weather.
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Opening credits prologue: In the Navy records in Washington, there is an obscure entry reading "Saddles for Gobi."
This film is based on the story behind that entry--one of the strangest stories of World War II. See more »
Destination Gobi finds Richard Widmark assigned as the ranking non-commissioned officer on a Navy weather station in the Gobi Desert. Wrap your mind around that concept, Navy personnel in the middle of the Gobi Desert.
It's not an assignment that a guy who was a CPO on the USS Enterprise in 1944 is looking for. But that's what he's drawn. Widmark is to assist Captain Russell Collins in setting up one of a series of weather station in Inner Mongolia, that is that part of Mongolia located inside the Great Wall of China.
Collins is a meteorologist with a Navy commission, so Widmark is really the guy in charge. Setting up the advance outpost, the dozen or so sailors have to establish good relations with the local Mongol tribesmen who pretty much live as they did under Genghis Khan. The gifts that put it over are a requisition for some old army saddles from the late U.S. Cavalry.
Later on the Japanese bomb the station and Collins and others are killed. It's up to Widmark to get his men out of the Gobi Desert and avoid falling into the hands of the Japanese. The Mongols and their saddles prove to be of invaluable assistance.
I think Destination Gobi got a bit off track after the Japanese attack. The first part of the film was quite good, especially depicting the Mongol culture. But after the attack the escapades of the men trying to get to U.S. lines which in this case means to Eastern China and across the water to Okinawa was a bit much. The Japanese were shown to be as dumb as the Axis powers were shown during World War II and the height of the propaganda films made back then. Richard Loo who played so many nasty Japanese back in the day was the Japanese commander and he must have had a recurring case of deja vu.
Still Widmark does a fine job as does Murvyn Vye who is the head Mongol. They are ably supported by such stalwart character players as Don Taylor, Martin Milner, Casey Adams, Darryl Hickman, and Earl Holliman.
Destination Gobi could have been a much better film.
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