Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sahara (1943 U.S.A.)

Starring Humphrey Bogart

After the fall of the Libyan city of Tobruk, Sergeant Joe Gunn (Humphrey Bogart) and his crew retreat in their tank across the Sahara. Along the way they pick up six Allied stragglers and a Sudanese corporal and his Italian prisoner. Tambul directs the group to a desert fortress, where they find desperately needed water. When a 500 strong detachment of German soldiers arrive, and is subsequently denied water, Gunn must lead his small group of weary men in a desperate battle.

Sahara is a 1943 war film directed by Zoltán Korda. Humphrey Bogart stars as a U.S. tank commander in Egypt during the Western Desert Campaign of World War II. The movie earned three Academy Award nominations: Best Sound, Best Cinematography (Black-and-White) and Best Supporting Actor by J. Carrol Naish for his role as an Italian prisoner.

A television remake starring Jim Belushi in Bogart's role was broadcast in 1995.

Plot Synopsis;
An M3 Lee tank, commanded by U.S. Army Sergeant Joe Gunn (Humphrey Bogart) and nicknamed Lulu Belle, becomes separated from its unit during a general retreat from Rommel's forces. At a bombed-out field hospital, the crew picks up a motley collection of stragglers, among them a British doctor, four assorted Commonwealth troops, and a Free French corporal (Louis Mercier). Later, they pick up a Sudanese sergeant major (Rex Ingram) and his Italian prisoner (J. Carrol Naish), who volunteeers to lead them to a well at Hassan Barani. En route, a Luftwaffe pilot (Kurt Kreuger) strafes the tank, killing one of the British soldiers (Lloyd Bridges), but is shot down and captured.

Running out of water, they are forced to detour to a desert well marked on Gunn's map. They find it, but it is almost empty, providing only a trickle of water. A German half track arrives soon afterwards and Gunn's group ambushes it. Gunn finds out from the two survivors of its crew that a German battalion, desperate for water, is following close behind. He decides to make a stand to delay the Germans any way he can, while he sends one of his men, Waco (Bruce Bennett) away in the captured German vehicle in search of help. The two Germans are released, to carry back an offer: "guns for water", even though there is barely enough for Gunn's men.

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The well has completely dried up by the time the Germans arrive. A standoff and battle of wills begins. Gunn pretends the well is full of water and negotiates to waste time. Eventually, the Germans attack and are beaten off again and again, but one by one, the defenders are killed. However, the thirst-maddened Germans' final assault turns into a full-blown surrender as they drop their weapons and claw across the sand towards the well. To Gunn's shock, he discovers that a German shell that exploded in the well has refilled it by tapping into another source of water. Gunn and the only other Allied survivor disarm the Germans while they're drinking their fill and start marching them east, where they encounter Allied troops led by Gunn's courier Waco, who had managed to reach them. The movie ends with news of the allied victory at the First Battle of El Alamein, turning back the tide of Rommel's Afrika Corps.

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The plot of the film (especially the scene with a bucket of water) closely resembles an earlier Mikhail Romm film The Thirteen (Russian: Тринадцать, 1937) which, in turn, was influenced by John Ford’s The Lost Patrol
Nominated for 3 Oscars
Imdb Link - Sahara (1943)

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