During the 1920s, French Foreign Legion Major William Foster's (Gene Hackman'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.
Foreign Legion Major William Foster (Gene 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 Segrain (Terence 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. Arab leader El Krim (Sir Ian 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 Zulu (1964). Costumes, firearms, and props are all very authentic-looking, and show great attention to detail.Written by
Cameron Fairchild <email@example.com>
In the mid 1950s, it was announced that Errol Flynn would be starring in his first television series, a French Foreign Legion show, which would have gone by the title "March or Die". It never materialized. See more »
The bugle call for reveille is the same in the US and French armies. See more »
[a battered group of legionares marched through a train station, while the crowd chanted the French national anthem; the first actual lines are about 4 minutes within the movie]
[to a line of German prisioners]
If you join the French Foreign Legion, remember: there are no questions asked. Come! Join the Legion!
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The one major network showing of "March or Die" was considerably different from the original release, with a great deal of additional footage and a completely different ending. At the end of the original release Marco (Hill) gives a rousing speech to replacement Legionnaires, which is word-for-word the same speech Foster (Hackman) gave recruits near the beginning of the film. (To potential deserters: "If the Legion doesn't get you, the Arabs will. If the Arabs don't get you, the desert will. And if the desert doesn't get you... I will.) A caravan is leaving the fort behind Marco as he gives his speech. The original release ends on this note, implying that Marco has stepped into Foster's shoes as loyal Legion commander. In the network showing, after Marco delivers his speech, we see Marco deserting. He has slipped into Arab garb and joined the caravan leaving the fort. The Sergeant-Major is shown smiling at him, implying that he is complicit in Marco's desertion. Also in the network showing: A fierce desert battle between a legion column and Arab raiders. The entire battle is deleted from the original release. The column is led by the mean Lieutenant. In one scene, the mean Lieutenant is shown placing a pistol to his head and committing suicide. The scene does not appear in the original release. In addition, in the original release, the footage of the mean Lieutenant firing his pistol during the column's battle with raiders, is edited into the final battle scene at the archaological dig. The effect is quite jarring, as he has not been present for about a third of the film. See more »
Dick Richards's 'March or Die' is an interesting film set in Morocco during the French colonization. It nicely entangles the war drama and the love triangle. As the captain, we see a ruthless William but his feelings for Simone show a more human side. Marco is the clever thief and a skilled smooth talker with a good heart but he too has a vulnerable side. Simone is perhaps the most complex of characters as she is ambivalent concerning William and in love with Marco though she cannot bring herself to say it. The main characters are quite well fleshed out. The pacing is slow at times. The love sequences are well executed and it is very well underplayed. There is no sugar syrupy moment. The cinematography is okay. A wonderful Gene Hackman is both hateful and sympathetic. Terence Hill performs very naturally. Max Von Sydow is good but Ian Holm is unintentionally funny and it looks as if he's mocking a Moroccan tribes leader rather than playing it. A radiant Catherine Deneuve is sublime. Gosh, she looks so beautiful! The rest of the cast do well. The movie sort of has a dated feel to it but 'March or Die' is good enough watch for a Thursday night.
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