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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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Maj. William Sherman Foster
...
Marco Segrain
...
Simone Picard
...
Francois Marneau
...
El Krim
...
Ivan
...
Sgt. Triand
...
Lt. Fontaine
...
Top Hat
Paul Sherman ...
Fred Hastings
...
Mean Corporal
...
Leon
Luigi Bonos ...
Andre
Wolf Kahler ...
First German
Matthias Hell ...
Second German
Edit

Storyline

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 <fairchop@ix.netcom.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The magnificent story of every courageous man who has ever gone out to face death and every brave woman who has ever waited for him to return. See more »


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

8 September 1977 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Marchar o morir  »

Box Office

Budget:

$9,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$1,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

El Krim is based on the Morrocian revolutionary Abd el-Krim (1882-1963), the leader of a large-scale armed resistance movement in the Rif, a Berber area of north-eastern Morocco. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Sgt. Triand: [El Krim's mounted tribesmen are growing in number and coming dangerously close to the Legionnaires holed up in the compound. Major Foster seems indecisive] Please, sir, the orders?... The men are waiting for your orders.
Maj. William Sherman Foster: [Showing signs of disorientation, with WWI flashback] Are the men in their trenches?
Sgt. Triand: [Impassively] There are no trenches, sir.
Maj. William Sherman Foster: [Getting agitated] Why haven't the trenches been dug?
Sgt. Triand: [...]
See more »


Soundtracks

For He's a Jolly Good Fellow
(uncredited)
Traditional
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User Reviews

 
Gene Hackman's French Foreign Legion protects a grave excavation from desert tribes led by Ian Holm
5 December 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"March or Die" is a good film, an entertaining film, and a splendidly-photographed film. It's really beautiful to watch. It has fine performances from its cast too, under good direction. It gets many of the details about the French Foreign Legion right. It treats the Arab tribe side with some respect and insight too, except for the staging of the attack on the Legion position.

Gene Hackman is the commander of a French Foreign Legion unit. He's been through World War I and lost most of 8,000 men. He's disillusioned with the waste of good soldiers. He's assigned to protect a project to excavate a tomb in the North African desert, the excavation being led by Max von Sydow. Hackman calls it grave-robbing. He realizes the insult to the native Arabs who are armed and ready to revolt against colonial rule. (Indeed, the Rif Rebellion in Morocco (1921-1926) united tribes and produced a short-lived republic, until the Spanish and French defeated them in 1926.) Ian Holm leads the Arab forces, and he sees an opportunity to unite the divided tribes by attacking the dig.

Maybe half and then some of the movie is taken up with the training of the legionnaires. The one doing the training is the suitably tough Marcel Bozzuffi. Among the recruits are Italian Terence Hill, Russian Jack O'Halloran and the Frenchman Andre Penvern.

March or die is 100% accurate as a title. The Legion is famous for marching as a discipline.

It's interesting to see the transformation of Hill's character. His independence at the outset gives way to the discipline, and he becomes the old hand at instilling that discipline.

The Berbers in Morocco used guerrilla techniques, which is how they won, at least at first. Their Spanish enemy lost by attrition, being outmaneuvered, disease and demoralization. This movie has the Arabs launching a frontal attack with immense loss of life. This is unrealistic.

The reason that the movie doesn't get a rating that's above average is that the story is sub-par. The picture is episodic. It doesn't build tension, suspense or even theme. The characters mostly stay the same, apart from Hill.


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