Foreign Legion Major Foster (Hackman), an American haunted by his memories of the recently-ended Great War, is assigned to protect a group of archaeologists at their dig. Foster's unit ... See full summary »
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Foreign Legion Major Foster (Hackman), an American haunted by his memories of the recently-ended Great War, is assigned to protect a group of archaeologists at their dig. Foster's unit includes the charming, thieving rascal Marco (Hill), who joined the Legion only to avoid prison. After long stretches portraying the boredom and hardship of day-to-day life in the Legion, Foster's command occupies a small village where the archaeologists believe they've found a burial site sacred to the Arabs. An Arab leader (Holm) uses this affront to unite the tribes in Jihad, and attacks the tiny Legion garrison at the dig. An epic battle follows, very reminiscent of the film "Zulu". Costumes, firearms, and props are all very authentic-looking, and show great attention to detail. Written by
Cameron Fairchild <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Gene Hackman had been experiencing pains in his back. The film's insurance company refused to allow the shooting to continue because a permanent injury to Hackman could have cost it a lot of money. The insurers suggested shooting the film somewhere in the deserts of the United States. But the color of the sand dunes in Agadir is not the same as the color of the sand in Nevada. Several big American transport planes were used to transport tons of sand from the Agadir dunes in order to camouflage the sand of Nevada. (Source: Beyond Casablanca, Page 131). See more »
The Legion uses French military equipment and customs. Yet in one scene, when the new recruits are awakened one morning, an American bugle call (reveille) is used. See more »
Maj. William Sherman Foster:
[Recounting bits of his past, in a somewhat rambling manner, to a prostitute who has been sent to his room]
I was in Morocco for 12 years. Do you know what a trench is? I dug trenches all over Europe. I ate in them, and I slept in them... I should have been a general in the U.S. Army. I was named after a general - - William Sherman... The Legion is my army now. Not the *vaunted* army of America - those bastards threw me out. All I did was tell them what I thought of them.
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No questions asked. Join the legion. "March or Die" is a commendably sprawling old-fashion action adventure with plenty of spirit and a touch of romance (where Hill would do some striking carriage jumping to encounter the lovely Deneuve), which is crisply directed by Dick Richards. At the end of World War One, a division of the French foreign legion led by Major Foster is ordered to protect an archaeological dig, as the last expedition was slaughtered by the Arabs. Foster despises the orders, but must follow them and this excites the wrath of Arab leader El Krim who uses this to unite all the tribes to lead an attack on the foreigners.
For these types of films, it offers no real surprises but does grip and bestow some powerful sequences and vivid local colour. The talented cast acquit themselves very well. Gene Hackman gives a well rounded performance, rather harden and solemn, but a major who does care for his men. Terence Hill brings charm to his carefree role as the newly enlisted legionnaire. The rapport he shares with the cast is simply spellbinding; especially with his fellow rag-tag legionnaires and his athletic abilities provided much amusement. The classy Max Von Sydow shows up as an idealistic archaeologist and turning the men's heads was the delectably headstrong Catherine Deneuve. A polite sounding Ian Holm brings a great deal of intensity as the powerful Arab leader trying to invoke religious fanaticism. Also Jack O'Halloran has his moments.
The plot's build-up is slow and melancholy, but concise which gave time for different story arches and characters to open up, albeit in a clichéd manner. Watching Hackman's Major and Hill's legionnaire respectably going at each other in a battle of wits was basic, but nonetheless harsh and effective. Sometimes trying to get your message across, does come at a price. After a talky set-up and then the boot- training, it got to business. The action is fairly one-note, but still with some sting as its kept for a cracking finale where against the odds the legionnaires find themselves up against waves upon waves of advancing Arabs wanting nothing but their blood. Also it's beautifully shot capturing the grand scope of the production with all details covered from the sets to the costumes.
"In the legion you march or die".
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