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.
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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 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 »
[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 »
First off, I have seen two versions of this film. Surprisingly, the first time I saw it was on late night TV, and recalling from memory it was shown in two parts. SUPERB! It was about four full hours, and the plot and character development both made sense. THEN, I saw it was to be released in the theater (hurrah, I thought!). No. The film was destroyed by too much editing. Needless to say, I thought this whole situation weird because I remember seeing the much superior TV version before seeing the Theater version. What I major disappointment that was! Anyhow, those who have only seen the short version may wonder why Marco starts out in the movie in a different uniform (I believe he and his brother, which you never see, were in the Italian army, or something like that) and why you sort of see the the French Lt. (who looks like Charles Bronson)around the beginning, but then he sort of fades out of the script. Once again, I recall that the Arabs actually attacked the oasis at the very beginning of the movie (as seen on TV) and he was a sole survivor: Then later he kills himself. I only saw the TV version once, but this is what I recall. TV version: 9.5 out of 10. Theater version: 6.5 out of 10. Wish I could find the full version!
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