During the 1920s, French Foreign Legion Major William Foster's unit is protecting an archaeological dig but the discovery of an Arab sacred burial site prompts the angry Arab tribes to attack Foster's small garrison.

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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
...
First German
Matthias Hell ...
Second German
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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 Foreign Legion - they were the greatest fighting force of all time and they obeyed but one command - [March Or Die] 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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

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

Ship's captain: You are going to excavate in Morocco, is that correct?
François Marneau: Yes.
Maj. William Sherman Foster: [Butting in] Grave-robbing, actually. That's what I call it where I'm from.
Maj. William Sherman Foster: [Now turning to look at Murneau] We are in the grave business, aren't we? I mean, you dig them up, and I fill them in.
François Marneau: [Remaining composed] What you call "grave-robbing," Major, is the search for our classical heritage - that is, the secrets of our forefathers.
See more »

Connections

Version of Legionnaire (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

For He's a Jolly Good Fellow
(uncredited)
Traditional
See more »

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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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