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Thursday, May 20, 2021

The Lost Patrol (1934)

Set during WWI, after the death of the Lieutenant leading the patrol in the Mesopotamian desert, the Sergeant (Victor McLaglen) takes command. The only problem is that the deceased Lieutenant was the only one who knew what their mission is and where they were. Lost in the desert, the patrol finds an oasis to shelter them but they are surrounded by Arabs intent on wiping them out. Based on the novel PATROL (previously filmed in 1923) by Philip MacDonald and directed by John Ford. This pre-code film is the prototype of all those war movies and westerns where the main characters are trapped and surrounded by nemesis on all sides and struggle to survive with the odds against them. Shot in stark B&W by Harold Wenstrom (MIN AND BILL) in the deserts and dunes of Arizona and California (Algodones), Ford creates a taut and strained atmosphere that enhances the tension. Never seen until the very end, the Arabs are a ghostly presence through most of the film. The acting is decent except for Boris Karloff, who goes a bit over the top as a religious fanatic. Max Steiner did the score. With Reginald Denny, Wallace Ford, Alan Hale and J.M. Kerrigan. 

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