Thursday, June 2, 2016

March or Die (1977)

Director: Dick Richards

Writers: David Zelag Goodman, Dick Richards

Composer: Maurice Jarre

Starring: Gene Hackman, Terence Hill, Catherine Deneuve, Max von Sydow, Ian Holm, Jack O'Halloran, Rufus, Marcel Bozzuffi, Andre Penvern, Paul Sherman, Vernon Dobtcheff, Walter Gotell

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Foreign Legion - they were the greatest fighting force of all time and they obeyed but one command

Plot: Foreign Legion Major Foster (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 (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. An Arab leader (Holm) uses this affront to unite the tribes in Jihad, and attacks the tiny Legion garrison at the dig. An epic battle follows.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.


Maj. Foster (Hackman) has only one redeeming quality and that's his convictions based on years of experience.  He's the only voice of reason when it comes to standing up against the French government in using his troops to guard an archaeological dig in the desert that saw the previous archaeologists killed by the Arabs.  Outside of that, he's a sad man that's been beaten down by years of war and he spends an extraordinary amount of time telling everyone how pissed he is.  Marco, on the other hand, is the epitome of optimism and he exudes that notion of doing the right thing regardless of the consequences.  That just makes it even harder for the ending when he picks up Foster's post and continues on with Foster's ideals.  The thing is, Foster was made that way through years of brutal warfare.  Marco fights in one battle and he suddenly gets it?  I don't think so.  That's the worst offense of the picture - the ending.  Would he seriously give up freedom and a lifetime with Simone (Deneuve) to stay in the harsh desert and the legion?  He was literally given a get out of jail free card and he does the opposite of what just about everyone else would do.  I get that it makes the story more poetic but I have to call bullshit.  The pacing is fine and the performances are fine.  It didn't gel with me like I would have liked but it is enjoyable.  It's always a treat to see Hill and Hackman.  Oh, and Jack O'Halloran is fun.  During the big battle scene at the end of the picture it hit me that he might have been cast in lieu of Bud Spencer (Hill's longtime screen partner since the late 60s).  He was fun and a super nice guy.  I met him at a comiccon a couple of years back. The Atlantic Film DVD delivers a nice anamorphic widescreen print with the sole extra, the theatrical trailer (non anamorphic widescreen).

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