Sahara Review

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US Sergeant Joe Gunn (Bogart) and his tank crew, lost in a large sandpit, pick up straqglers of virtually every allied nationality and then fight a vast number of Germans to protect the well they stumble upon.


Part of Bogart's movie war record: as well as being the laconic neutral who finally chose the right side in Casablanca and To Have And Have Not, Bogart also took some more belligerent action against the World War Two enemies. In All Through The Night (1942) his wise-cracking gangster foils a Nazi plot to blow up a battleship in New York harbour. In Across The Pacific (1942) he single-handedly shoots down the Japanese plane taking off to bomb the Panama Canal. In Action In The North Atlantic (1943) he keeps the ocean supply lines to Britain open, and in Passage To Marseilles (1944 — a film famous for its flashbacks within flashbacks) he's a French journalist turned bomber crewman. A cut above most of those, Sahara is one of the best American war movies made during the conflict.

It's 1942 and Bogart is a desert tank commander isolated from the rest of his outfit. Gradually picking up a veritable United Nations of stragglers including several Brits, a South African, a Sudanese, and German and Italian prisoners, he ends up making a big last stand against a much superior force of Nazis from a dry oasis. Bogart looks as though he belongs in his tanker's uniform, the California desert locations are suitably rugged, and though most of the secondary characters are thinly drawn, his is a convincing blend of no-nonsense toughness and blunt principle. The plot does tend to move in talky fits and starts, but through to its big battle ending, this still packs a good wallop, idealistic speeches and all.

A convincing, rugged piece of propaganda that was so well put together it can be still be appreciated as an action movie in it's own right.