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Author Topic: The Wind and the Lion (1975)  (Read 14302 times)
Groggy
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« on: February 17, 2007, 04:50:24 PM »

After getting eliminated from the American Legion Contest this morning, I went home, slept, and watched "The Wind and the Lion" on TCM.  It was just the thing to cheer me up!

This is a really fun action/adventure film, with some great shootouts/battle scenes and a lot of nice humor.  It's fun, funny, enjoyable and doesn't overstay its welcome like certain action pics (*cough!* "Pirates of the Caribbean" *cough*).  It was fun to see a lot of scenes clearly influenced by Lean and Peckinpah throughout the film (and I swear the Bashaw's palace was General Allenby's HQ building from "Lawrence" as well).  Sean Connery was strangely convincing as an Arab, and Brian Keith was a dead-on TR.  I liked that John Millius didn't take himself seriously with this film; a lot of the scenes (the attack on Vladek Sheybal's palace for instance) came across almost farcicly.  Also, I've never been crazy about Candace Bergin, but she was excellent in this movie as the feisty Eden Pedecaris.  Of course, it was fun to see Gunter Ruiz (Domingo Antoine/Antoine Saint-John/whatever the hell his real name is) as the German bad guy and Aldo Sambrell as "Ugly Arab".  Grin

I'd give it a 9/10.  It's a bit high of a rating, perhaps, but given that it had no pretensions of being anything other than a stylish action film I feel it deserves it.

« Last Edit: February 17, 2007, 04:53:38 PM by Groggy » Logged


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« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2007, 08:53:28 PM »

Saw this a long time ago, forgot that Connery played an Arab.  Too funny.

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Tim
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« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2007, 10:34:22 AM »

   Definitely a very entertaining movie.   Connery is excellent, but I love Brian Keith as Pres. Teddy Roosevelt and John Huston as John Hay, the Secretary of State.  And a spaghetti connection, Aldo Sambrell plays one of Connery's men.  I looked it up at imdb for his name in the movie, it's..........Ugly Arab! Grin  Poor Aldo.

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« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2007, 03:53:38 PM »

Yeah, I kind of pointed Aldo out in the OP. . . no big deal though.  Afro

Actually, my mistake, Connery was a Berber, not an Arab.  Sorry if anyone was offended.

I really love the last battle scene, which parodies both "The Wild Bunch" and "Lawrence of Arabia" - it's really well-done, with the great sword fight between Connery and St. John in the midst of it and Bergen.  I also like the Marine attack on Vladek Sheybal's palace - it was just so sudden and chaotic, it was almost funny.  Steve Kanaly was hilarious as the gung-ho Marine commander - none of his actions really make any sense, but who cares?

I also liked the political content of the film.  Even though Milius is right-wing, his depiction of America and its place in the world is pretty accurate (and timely) IMO.  He shows America as being both strong and heroic, while also showing it as occasionally reckless and violent (the scene with the Bashaw and the target shooting of the European rulers - probably the funniest part of the movie).  I also like his observation that America will never be loved, no matter how much we're "respected" or what we do.  Historically the film's a joke, even though it's allegedly based on a true story, but the political content is well-done without being overbearing.  It's something interesting to chew on while you watch, at least.

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« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2007, 04:46:20 PM »

Grogs, Milius is on record claiming his favorite film is River Kwai. Just thought you oughta know.

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« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2007, 04:54:51 PM »

He's also a pretty big Leone fan too, isn't he?  I seem to remember him being approached to direct OUATIA. . .

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« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2008, 11:16:24 PM »

Okay, I know I'm not likely to get many or any responses, but whatever, I'll indulge myself.

I received the novelization of The Wind and the Lion today (ordered along with the Dundee novelization which was described). Unlike the Dundee novel, it's very close to the film, except for a few minor differences:

- Another brief novelization, about 120 pages or so not counting extra material (detailed below). Milius's prose writing style is easy to read and enjoyable but it's hardly great literature. Most of the novel, somewhat understandably, is dialogue, with fairly brief scene/character descriptions.

- The order of some scenes is changed, which is a bit disorienting if you're familiar with the film. The main sequence towards the middle of the film which goes:
Gummere-Chadwick-Jerome conference/the Perdicaris's escape/Raisuli rescue/scene at the castle (you're just bluffing them)/Marine attack/Roosevelt target shooting/Raisuli's story

Is changed to:

Scene at the castle/Military conference/Roosevelt target shooting/Escape scene/Rescue/Raisuli's story/Marine attack

- There are three fairly small scenes which weren't in the movie but exist in the novel:

- Roosevelt and Hay's first scene takes place on a canoe/rowboat. I assume this was cut for being an overkill display of TR's manliness (the boxing and archery were still in the novel).
- Gummere meets with the Sherif of Wazan (who gives him the finger he cut from a woman, claiming it was Eden's) and a representative of the Bashaw. During the middle of the scene, the Atlantic Squadron is seen arriving in the harbor, and Gummere says the time for negotiation is over.
- Eden takes a bath at the Raisuli's palace immediately before the escape attempt

None of them add a lot to the story but they're still interesting. Some additional dialogue as well, but that's to be expected. This includes Roosevelt's line from the trailer about how he'd like to settle things with Raisuli, "Just the two of us", which was cut from the film.

- A few changes exist towards the end (which were inventions of Milius, not historical stuff). The Sultan was strangled to death by one of his associates (is implied he was assassinated, but no culprit is named), the Bashaw is present in the final battle (he is torturing Raisuli) and gets shotgunned by Eden. The lead-in to the final battle is not the Wild Bunch homage/direct confrontation, but Jerome and his men disguise themselves and ambush the Germans. German character played by Gunter Ruiz does not appear until the very end, and there are also French troops at the battle along with the Germans. Gayaan the Terrible, William Perdicaris's buddy who gave him the knife, is killed and William cries over his body. Nothing which seriously affects the story.

- It also has some press kit stuff, fairly brief, about the making of the film and brief bios of Milius, Herb Jaffe, and most of the cast.

So, worth a look I suppose. I bought my copy for $0.01 plus shipping, so it was a good deal for me. Afro

« Last Edit: February 21, 2008, 11:20:08 PM by Groggy » Logged


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« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2009, 07:38:42 PM »

Interview with actor Darrell Fetty, who played one of the American ambassadors in the film. Lots of interesting info on this film and Big Wednesday.

http://www.cultfilmfreak.com/darrellfetty

I might rewatch this tonight after the football game, and if I do I'll try and write something up for my blog.

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« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2009, 01:01:00 AM »

Here's my essay. A bit long-winded but hopefully worthwhile to anyone who may read it:

Quote
John Milius's The Wind and the Lion is a truly wonderful film, and one I have a great deal of affection for. This film embodies everything I love about movies: great action scenes, an intriguing story (based VERY loosely on historical fact) and setting, well-drawn characters, and a wonderful sense of intelligence both cynical and insightful. When one is in the right mood, a movie like this just hits the spot.

In 1904, Morocco is holding a tenuous grip on its sovereignty as the European powers of Britain, France, Germany and Spain are seeking to exert influence and muscle on one of Africa's last uncolonized regions. While the country's inept Sultan (Marc Zuber) and crooked Bashaw (Vladek Sheybal) are more than happy to do business with the Europeans, the Raisuli (Sean Connery), a Berber chieftain and outlaw, has other plans. He kidnaps American expatriate Eden Perdicaris (Candice Bergen) and her children from Tangier in order to embarrass the Sultan and exact tribute. American President Theodore Roosevelt (Brian Keith) seizes upon the incident and uses it as fodder for his re-election bid, though he finds himself fascinated by Raisuli - as is Eden, who slowly falls in love with the dashing brigand. Meanwhile, various American, European and Moroccan diplomats negotiate and scheme over the situation, leading to the landing of US Marines in Tangier and a showdown involving the Raisuli, the Marines, the German army and the Moroccan government.

More than any other film, The Wind and the Lion allows John Milius's talents the fullest rein. While a celebrated screenwriter (Dirty Harry, Apocalypse Now), his directoral efforts are widely dismissed, and in many cases rightfully so - whatever their merits, it's hard to argue Big Wednesday, Conan the Barbarian and Red Dawn are masterpieces. Certainly Milius is an intriguing figure, an odd mixture of dichotomies: a right-wing gun-nut who gained reknown as a surfer, an ardent patriot fascinated with the military who is suspicious of authority and cynical of American foreign policy. Also at play in his works are a sense of childish anarchism mixed with macho posturing, with an insightful intelligence mixed in as well. Most of his directorial works struggle to balance the three, resulting in entertaining but frustratingly uneven films. The Wind and the Lion is the one movie where Milius gets just the right balance, and despite some flaws in its story construction, it fires on all cylinders as a work of entertainment, and as a thoughtful statement on imperialism, American foreign policy and masculinity.

The movie's biggest triumph is its comparison of Roosevelt and Raisuli as two sides of the same coin. Both characters embody the virile, rugged masculinity that Milius admires. Both men are honorable, chivalrous, brave, uncompromising and strong (physically and mentally) men of the old school, out of place in a world riddled by greed, corruption, avarice and self-interested pragmatism - and moreover, they know it. Both men are obsessed with weapons, extremely proud, undermined by those around them (the Raisuli is betrayed and imprisoned by his brother, the Bashaw, while Roosevelt's cabinet and staff scheme literally behind his back to secure the support of corporate special interests) - but despite their shortcomings, both men possess honor and self-awareness that their unscrupulous peers lack. The film is Hemmingway-esque in its mediation on the decline of masculinity, undermined by crooked politicians and greed, and makes its point compellingly with two beautifully drawn protagonists.

Milius also shows an intelligent view of American foreign policy and adventurism, shaped by a curious mixture of cynicism and romanticism. One of the movie's key scenes is a conference of American diplomats and military leaders debating how to rescue the Perdicarises, resulting in the gung-ho Captain Jerome (Steve Kanaly) cheerily recommending "military intervention!" as the clear-cut solution to the problem. Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz would no doubt smile approvingly as these men raise their glasses in toast to "a world at war" - military intervention is the answer, consequences be damned. It's hard to watch this scene without laughing; it's deliberately comic, but strikes a chord. And yet, the actual execution of this plan - as the Marines march in orderly file through the slums of Tangier, gunning down the Bashaw's bodyguard without warning and cheerily running up the Stars and Stripes - is depicted in such a straight-forward manner that it's impossible to tell whether Milius is being serious or not. Certainly the tone is largely the same as before, but it's obvious Milius wants us to celebrate the Marines as heroes rather than invaders introducing their own brand of imperialsim. Guessing, however, is part of the fun, and his point remains regardless.

More measured, but no less pertinent, than this overtly satirical sequence is Roosevelt's wonderful monologue, where he muses over a freshly killed grizzly bear about the spirit and nature of America. His monologue about American loneliness and exceptionalism - "The world will never love us... For we have too much audacity!" - is one of the most intelligent things ever written for a film on the subject, succinctly stating the view of a young nation just emerging as a world power, completely different from the decadent, decaying empires of the Old World, replacing their power-hungry self-indulgence with hopeful idealism (even if subverted to an extent by greed and corruption). This scene is considered, thoughtful, and succinct, neither jingoism nor crass mockery. Noam Chomsky might take issue with such an assessment, but its simple truth reverberates throughout the entire film.

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« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2009, 01:01:57 AM »

Part Two:

Quote
Though the peripheral scenes involving American Ambassadors Gummere (Geoffrey Lewis) and Dreighton (Darrell Fetty) negotiating for Perdicarises' release may detract from the flow of the story, they serve an important purpose in a complex, realistic and still pertinent portrayal of the Middle East. With the imperial powers of America and Europe viewing Morocco as merely another foreign land to conquer and exploit, Moroccans are caught in the middle. While their crooked, greedy and selfish leaders are happy to cooperate with foreign benefactors, men like Raisuli will not accept this. Even in 1975, it was extremely bold for Milius to portray the Raisuli - a man unquestionably a terrorist - with legitimate grievances against his government and foreign interlopers, and a hero at that. That this fits in so well with Milius's gung-ho endorsement of military adventurism is a testament to Milius's skill as a writer; he's able to have it both ways without seeming foolish or hypocritical.

All this political content is interesting, but what of the film as entertainment? Fortunately, the movie succeeds first and foremost as a fine adventure film, wonderfully contained within its 119 minutes. The movie embraces its Boy's Own roots by having William Perdicaris (Simon Harrison), Eden's young son, as a central character; the movie is essentially seen through his eyes, which certainly helps explain the film's coloring. The relationship between Eden and Raisuli is enjoyable and well-developed, although it never quite makes the turn into outright romance; but the scenes of our two protagonists bantering like refugees from His Girl Friday provide lots of fun dialogue as they play with the Raisuli's archaic language.

The film works wonderfully for about 85 minutes of its run time; the pacing is crisp and fast, the action scenes thrilling and brilliantly shot, and even the dialogue scenes fly by (thanks in no small part to Milius's witty, sharp-tongued and endlessly quotable screenplay). However, the film struggles to the climax - we have a lot of long and draggy dialogue scenes involving the Raisuli, as the final battle is awkwardly set-up, and we're a bit disappointed as Eden and Raisuli's relationship doesn't advance the logical step to romance. More awkward still is how the battle is set into motion - Eden and her children drawing guns on Jerome's Marines and essentially forcing them to rescue the Raisuli. It's an extremely awkward and silly moment, no matter how you look at it; fortunately, though, the film redeems this misstep with its wonderful final battle and poignant finale.

On a technical level, the film is marvelous. Milius handles the big action scenes - the Raisuli's, the final battle between the German, Moroccan and American armies, and most notably, the awe-inspiring march of Jerome's Marines through the streets of Tangier - with skill and aplomb, marshalling extras with the aplomb of David Lean for a fraction of the cost. (More than once I've heard this film referred to as a cross between Lawrence of Arabia and The Wild Bunch; I could not think of a better analogy). Billy Williams' cinematography is gorgeous, capturing the stark beauty of the Almerian desert and giving full breadth to the film's big action scenes. And lest we forget Jerry Goldsmith's score - rousing, evocative and beautifully romantic, it adds immeasuribly to the experience.

The film's protagonists are all wonderfully portrayed. Sean Connery is at his charismatic best; if you can overlook his trademark Scottish brogue, he's perfectly cast as the Raisuli, playing it with his customary charisma, humor and virility. Brian Keith is even more impressive as Roosevelt, giving an intelligent, layered portrayal of the President as not only the ultimate tough guy, but a thoughtful man who knows his own image and nourishes it carefully. Candice Bergen is perfectly cast, her classical beauty and stiff acting style perfectly suited for the tough-as-nails, Katharine Hepburn-esque tomboy Eden. The supporting cast is more uneven - while fine character actors like John Huston, Vladek Sheybal and Roy Jenson are given little to do, there are nice turns by Geoffrey Lewis as the gruff, cynical American ambassador and a handsome pre-Dallas Steve Kanaly as the improbably gung-ho recruiting poster Marine Captain.

The Wind and the Lion is simply an amazing film. I hope you'll excuse the length of this post, and giving my love of this film full rein. Suffice it to say, I love this movie, and it's one I'm happy to revisit again and again.

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2009/01/wind-and-lion.html

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« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2009, 10:50:40 AM »

He's also a pretty big Leone fan too, isn't he?  I seem to remember him being approached to direct OUATIA. . .

He was approached to write OUATIA. He would have loved to, but was involved in Apocalpyse Now at that time so he couldn't manage it. According to Leone, the evening (and the guy) was very strange, but i don't know how much we can trust the Master on that point.

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« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2009, 10:52:21 AM »

I've heard enough stories about Milius to conclude that no story about him could be dismissed out of hand. Cheesy

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« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2009, 12:44:33 PM »

After getting eliminated from the American Legion Contest this morning, I went home, slept, and watched "The Wind and the Lion" on TCM.  It was just the thing to cheer me up!

This is a really fun action/adventure film, with some great shootouts/battle scenes and a lot of nice humor.  It's fun, funny, enjoyable and doesn't overstay its welcome like certain action pics (*cough!* "Pirates of the Caribbean" *cough*).  It was fun to see a lot of scenes clearly influenced by Lean and Peckinpah throughout the film (and I swear the Bashaw's palace was General Allenby's HQ building from "Lawrence" as well).  Sean Connery was strangely convincing as an Arab, and Brian Keith was a dead-on TR.  I liked that John Millius didn't take himself seriously with this film; a lot of the scenes (the attack on Vladek Sheybal's palace for instance) came across almost farcicly.  Also, I've never been crazy about Candace Bergin, but she was excellent in this movie as the feisty Eden Pedecaris.  Of course, it was fun to see Gunter Ruiz (Domingo Antoine/Antoine Saint-John/whatever the hell his real name is) as the German bad guy and Aldo Sambrell as "Ugly Arab".  Grin

I'd give it a 9/10.  It's a bit high of a rating, perhaps, but given that it had no pretensions of being anything other than a stylish action film I feel it deserves it.

The Wind and the Lion is my second favourite Connery movie. The first one is The Man who would be King.

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« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2009, 12:52:05 PM »

The Man Who Would Be King is a good movie, but there's just something about it that doesn't do it for me the way The Wind and the Lion does. I love Connery and Michael Caine, great cinematography, the battle scenes are well-done, and there's a lot to like about it, but something about the story doesn't sit right with me. Maybe it feels a bit too rushed/abbreviated at times.

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« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2009, 01:39:13 PM »

EDIT

About Milius and OUATIA:

http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=8093.msg123915#new

« Last Edit: January 19, 2009, 01:43:23 PM by noodles_leone » Logged


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