Thursday, May 11, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks #148: Deserts

This being Thursday, it's time for another edition of "Thursday Movie Picks", the blogathon run by Wandering Through the Shelves. This weeks theme is Deserts, and as always I've picked three older movies.

Five Graves to Cairo (1942). Franchot Tone plays a British army officer whose tank is shot in the Sahara, leaving him the only survivor. He winds up at a hotel run by a local (Akim Tamiroff) and the Frenchwoman Mouche (Anne Baxter). The only problem is that Erwin Rommel (Erich von Stroheim) shows up with a bunch of his officers, and they're talking about something secretive enough that if they found out the truth about Tone's character, they'd execute him on the spot. Can he figure out the secret before the Nazis figure out his secret?

Destination Gobi (1953). Richard Widmark plays a naval officer who gets stationed along with his men in... the Gobi Desert! The reason for this is that it's World War II, and the navy needs accurate weather forecasts. The Navy assumes that if they can get people further west than the Pacific, they can learn what weather is coming up since weather patterns tend to travel from west to east. The Japanese find them, of course, and bomb the camp, leaving the survivors to make it to safety, which is difficult since they're in occupied China.

Inferno (1953). Robert Ryan plays a businessman married to Rhonda Fleming, and going to Arizona to investigate a business deal along with his partner, William Lundigan. What he doesn't know is that his wife and business partner are having an affair, and they decide that since the mineral rights investigation is in the desert, this would be the perfect opportunity to kill him by abandoning him with a broken leg and no horse. Only, Ryan decides he's not about to be abandond, and tries to walk to safety. Ryan is excellent, and the movie originally used 3-D, from what I've read mostly to make the desert seem bigger. And Fleming and her red hair are as gorgeous as ever.


Dell said...

Haven't seen any of your picks. One of my readers suggested Five Graves to Cairo, so I might have to check that one out.

joel65913 said...

Hey we match!! Five Graves to Cairo is a good tense film and one of Tone's best chances to carry a film which he does well on this occasion.

Even though I love Richard Widmark I can't say the same for Destination Gobi. It was okay but no better than it had to be.

Inferno is one I've long wanted to see because of Robert Ryan, who is always great, and Rhonda Fleming but it's rather elusive.

My first is sort of a hooty mess but I love it anyway and my second stars one of my favorite actresses being tough as nails which she did so well.

The Desert Song (1953)-Sometimes a movie is just so wildly miscast that you love it more for its faults than its strengths, that’s the case with this operetta. The basic story goes like so: There’s a civil war between Morocco’s Berber and Arab populations in the early 1900’s. French Foreign Legionnaire Gen. Birabeau arrives with daughter Margot (Kathryn Grayson) in tow to check the war’s progress while Arab Sheik Yousseff schemes to discredit the mysterious opposition leader El Khobar (Margot’s tutor in disguise) while Margot and El Khobar fall in love. Simple enough but what ratchets up the absurdity factor is that the Sheik is played by Raymond Massey, famous for playing Abraham Lincoln!, while El Khobar the Berber rebel leader is Gordon MacRae…that’s right Curley from Oklahoma!! If you can look beyond that the strapping Gordon and the lovely Kathryn are in great voice and the score is terrific but if you’re looking for realism look elsewhere.

Rawhide (1951)-Feisty young Vinnie Holt (Susan Hayward) traveling with her orphaned niece Callie is stranded at the remote stagecoach stop “Rawhide Pass” in the acrid desert of the old West with stationmaster Sam Todd (Edgar Buchanan) and his assistant Tom Owens (Tyrone Power) when the cavalry won’t permit her to proceed through dangerous territory because of a stage robbery. After the soldiers leave, Jim Zimmerman (Hugh Marlowe) bluffs his way into the station saying he’s a guard but is actually one of the escaped convicts responsible for the robbery. His three fellow escapees quickly appear intent on stealing the gold shipment due in the next day. After killing Sam they must keep Tom and Vinnie, who they mistakenly believe is his wife, alive to carry out their plan. As the four men turn on each other Tom & Vinnie work together to try and escape. Tight suspenseful Western.

Five Graves to Cairo (1943)-British Corporal John Bramble (Franchot Tone) is the lone survivor of a battle against Rommel’s army on the Egyptian border. Wandering through the desert he finds a remote hotel assuming a false identity to elude capture. Arriving shortly after is General Rommel himself (Erich von Stroheim) who takes Bramble for a German spy and lets slip hints of his secret strategy, the 'five graves' to Cairo-hidden excavations of supplies to enable survival across the desert. It’s up to Bramble to find a way to get word of the plan to the Allies and perhaps change the tide of the war.

Birgit said...

I haven't seen any of these and love old films so they are all n my list. Love Erich Von Stroheim so this film has been on my radar for a while. The other 2 are new to me so now they are on the list to see

Katie Hogan said...

Ah cool! I haven't seen any of these - Inferno sounds pretty darn good!