Saturday, February 26, 2011

Somehow I doubt it

If you thought the last Fox war movie I recommended, The Raid, was interesting, wait until you see the next one: Destination Gobi, tomorrow morning at 11:00 AM ET on the Fox Movie Channel.

The scene is World War II. American naval CPO Sam McHale (Richard Widmark) is ordered to go, of all places, to the Gobi Desert! The reason why is that the navy has set up a bunch of weather stations out in the Gobi, where they can forecast the weather that's going to go east to the Pacific a few days later, while hopefully staying far enough away from the Japanese. CPO McHale is none to happy about it, but takes up his post because, hey, orders are orders. While there, he meets a bunch of Mongols who may or may not be friendly, although they've set up camp next to the Americans. But, McHale tries to make friends with them, and asks the Navy to provision him with saddles for the Mongol horses. The Mongols are thankful, but look upon it as a gift, as when the Japanese finally come and try to bomb the Americans, the Mongols flee.

The Americans are left with the thankless task of trying to get somewhere to safety, but where? The only option seems to be to go across the Gobi, with the hope of getting to the sea, where they can finagle their way onto a boat that can take them to Okinawa, which by now has been liberated by the Americans. Now if you think this sounds like a bunch of nonsense, you might be right. The idea of crossing the Gobi sounds more like a Hollywood movie than real life, but we've got a movie to make here. Never mind that the producers couldn't make the movie in the actual Gobi Desert, since China had been taken over by the Communists by the time. Anyhow, the Americans get caught by the Japanese, but helped out by the Mongols just in time....

Destination Gobi is OK as entertainment, but nothing particularly spectacular; in short, it's the sort of movie you'd want to watch with a bowl of popcorn when you want to have a bit of fun as opposed to a serious evening of movies. Perhaps a bit more interesting is the rest of the cast in addition to Widmark. You've got Darryl Hickman in one of his adult roles; future Adam-12 star Martin Milner and future director Don Taylor are also among the Navy folks stuck out in the Gobi. The movie's director is Robert Wise during his earlier days at Fox, before he was able to choose where he worked and make such great movies as West Side Story.

Destination Gobi doesn't seem to be on DVD, so you'll have to record it off of Fox if you want to see it.

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