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Adventure in Sahara (1938)

Agadez is a lonely French outpost baking under the desert sun and commanded by the cruel and oppressive Captain Savatt (C. Henry Gordon). To it comes, at his own request, Legionnaire Jim ... See full summary »


D. Ross Lederman


Maxwell Shane (screenplay), Samuel Fuller (story) (as Sam Fuller)


Cast overview:
Paul Kelly ... Jim Wilson
C. Henry Gordon ... Capt. Savatt
Lorna Gray ... Carla Preston
Robert Fiske ... Lt. Dumond
Marc Lawrence ... Poule
Dick Curtis ... Karnoldi
Stanley Brown ... René Malreaux
Al Bridge ... Cpl. Dronov (as Alan Bridge)
Ray Bennett ... Ladoux (as Raphael Bennett)
Charles R. Moore ... Gungadin (as Charles Moore)
Dwight Frye ... Gravet - 'The Jackal'
Stanley Andrews ... Col. Rancreux
Learn more

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Agadez is a lonely French outpost baking under the desert sun and commanded by the cruel and oppressive Captain Savatt (C. Henry Gordon). To it comes, at his own request, Legionnaire Jim Wilson (Paul Kelly soon followed by his fiancée, Carla Preston (Lorna Gray), who has been tracing him from post to post. Legionnaires seize the fort and turn Savitt loose in the Arab-haunted desert with only a fraction of the water and food needed to get back to civilization. But Savitt gets through and returns to the fort at the head of an avenging troop of men. But Arabs surround Savitt and his men, and the mutineers, knowing that to leave the fort and aid them means their own death... Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

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Alternate Versions

When the film was re-submitted to the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) for a modern rating; a compulsory cut amounting to two seconds in total was required in order to remove sight of real animal cruelty (sight of a horse being tripped up and made to fall onto its head and neck) in line with UK law and the BBFC Guidelines and policy in regards to portrayal of animal cruelty in films. Following these cuts the film was passed "PG" without further cuts See more »

User Reviews

Beau Less
5 November 2015 | by slokesSee all my reviews

Hobbled by low production values and a by-the-numbers story, "Adventure In Sahara" lives up to its generic title despite a game cast and some low-rent intensity.

Jim Wilson (Paul Kelly) is a pilot working for a French airline servicing North Africa when he gets a telegram informing him of his brother's death: "You Will Know Details." For Wilson, this means quitting his job and joining the Foreign Legion, where his brother served, requesting the same cruel commandant his brother had, Savatt (C. Henry Gordon). Jim plans on revenge.

"You can't fight Savatt without fighting the Legion," Wilson is told, the story's dilemma in a nutshell. Does Wilson dare take on the code of discipline that binds men at war in order to take out his personal vendetta on Savatt?

Kelly and Gordon deserve credit for doing what they can with underwritten parts. Gordon leaves a positively pungent impression as the hard-as-nails Savatt, dominating every scene he is in. It's no surprise to see he wears his medals to bed. A number of recognizable character actors of the period show up, including Al Bridge from Preston Sturges' stock company, Dwight Frye from "Dracula," and Marc Lawrence, longtime Hollywood tough guy who plays Wilson's closest buddy in the Legion. All do good work.

The problem is the dialogue, so on the nail it emphasizes at every turn the generic feeling of the flick.

"You understand the Legion is no playground..."

"Come, come, young one, this is the Legion..."

"I shall make Legionnaires out of you, or crush you in the attempt..."

Apparently the idea began in Samuel Fuller's head as a story about a group of Legionnaires who are given medals for bravery in combat, only to be executed for mutiny seconds later. By the time screenwriter Maxwell Shane took over, the film was working the usual "Beau Geste" angle of a cruel commandant with a "Mutiny On The Bounty" twist you see a mile away.

The influences are more obvious than are the characters' motivations. Why does Wilson think putting himself under Savatt's authority in such desolate circumstances is a good idea? Why does Savatt drive his soldiers to death when he is 700 miles behind enemy lines? Why does Wilson's girlfriend fly to Savatt's fort by her lonesome after he deserts her without explanation?

The production values are in line with this sort of quickie treatment: The cyclorama that passes for a desert sky has visible stains on it. The fort Savatt rules, Agadez, has no apparent dimension, just a gate, a parapet, and a few interior rooms. Like planktonrules notes, the Arabs who attack number little over a dozen unless they are shown in stock footage. I think I recognize the same bearded gent getting shot in three different scenes.

"Adventure In Sahara" is nonsensical at times, but never dull; in addition to the solid acting you get some mesmerizingly moody shots by director C. Ross Lederman, including a close-up of a sand-caked Savatt of which von Sternberg would have been proud. Lederman had an unremarkable career, but was a pro all the same and knew what he was after here. "Adventure In Sahara" is the sort of undemanding fare made to pass the time and be forgotten soon after.

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Release Date:

15 November 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Revolt in the Sahara See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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