Legion of Missing Men (1937)
Director: Hamilton MacFadden.
Starring: Ralph Forbes (Bob Carter), Ben Alexander (Don Carter), Hala Linda (Nina De Bernay), Roy D'Arcy (Shiek Ibrahim-Ul-Ahmed), Paul Hurst (Muggsy), Jimmy Aubrey (Bilgey), George Regas (Sergeant Garcia), Frank Leigh (Colonel Laurant).
Foreign Legion in Morocco fights against Arab tribe
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
"North Africa. A burning desert empire held by men who seek to forget their yesterdays: professional soldiers of fortune; grim, hardy, courageous, the French Foreign Legion."
Sgt. Garcia yells at his menfor making slow progress in the sand of the desert. He tells the men that they have to get out of Ahmed's territory quickly or they will all die.
One of the legionnaires, Muggsy, is very disenchanted. He says they wasted half the company trying to get the machine guns to Tabala.
Sgt. Garcia says that Ahmed is trying to stir up the Hill tribes for another try at the border outposts. And, if that's true, they will need more machine guns than they have in the whole of the Legionnow.
Hill tribes seem to be tracking the legion.
One of the Legionnaires drops from the heat. Sgt.Garcia starts kicking the man telling him to get up. Bob tells the sergeant to stop kicking Joseph. Garcia tries to pull his pistol out, but the other legionnaires close in on him so he can't get the pistol up. As the men are arguing with each other, the Hill tribes open fire on the legionnaires, who rush for cover.
Bob tells the sergeant that he wants to go up into the hills to move the Hill people out of their positions. Bob takes Muggsy with him. Getting behind the enemy's positions, Bob throws a hand grenade at a position held by three gun men. The Hill people run from their positions.
The leader of the raid reports to his masterAhmed. He says they have captured some machine guns at the cost of 20 men. The problem is that no one knows how to assemble the machine guns. The leaders wants to kidnap a legionnaire and force him to show them how to handle the machine guns. The master approves of the plan.
At night Bob, Muggsy and Bilgey talk by the campfire. Bob says he joined the Legion because he became pretty good at firing the machine guns. So people who pay him to fire the machine guns. He hopped around in a lot of places, but finally joined the Legion. He wants to make enough money to put his kid brother through college.
The officer in charge of the 20thMarching company is very proud of what his men accomplished in the field. There is coming a whole group of new men into the unit and he wants the men to quickly whip them into shape.
The men get two month's pay and want to go down to the Royale Cafe and drink brandy. At the cafe there is a terrific singer there dressed as the leader of the band. Her name is Nina and both Bob and Garcia really like her.
The Legion commander tells the new Legionnaires that they are in a state of war with some Arab tribes. Among the new guys is Don Carter, brother to Bob Carter.
At the cafe Nina is watching Bob and his two friends. When the group starts to leaves Nina tells Bob that she is so happy that Bob returned safely to Tabala. Bob cuts the conversation short and Nina asks him: "Why do you always run away from me?" He says that he doesn't want to get involved with another man's girl. She says the sergeant is a good soldier, but he certainly does not own her. Bob replies: "Maybe not, but you got to make him believe that." Bob leaves.
Bob and Bilgey see an Arab struggling to move a donkey. The guys are both drunk, so Bob takes over from the Arab and actually gets the donkey up onto its feet. But the donkey will not move any farther. So Bob keeps pulling on him. He bumps into the owner and knocks him into a vendor's stand. Now all the Arabs jump on Bob and Bilgey.
Other legionnaires jump into the battle. Don Carter is one of the men coming to the rescue. And this is when Don and Bob are reunited. Bob is happy to see him, but a bit upset and disappointed that he's in the Legion.
The brothers go to the cafe where pretty dancing girls perform for the customers. The customers applaud for the performance. Bob asks Don why did he run away and join the Legion? Don says brother did the same thing. Don wants to experience the romance and adventure of the Legion. Bob replies: "Before you get through with this, you'll wish you never heard those words." He says the Legionnaires are tough and they pride themselves on being tough and having only each other as buddies and family. All the guys are drifters.
Nina starts singing. The brothers stop talking and start listening. Donhas alreadys blown away by Nina because he has been in the area for awhile. Maybe there will be three men involved heavily with Nina? Bob learns from Don that he has seen Nina perform a number of times already. Don says: "I'm tops with her." Bob advises his brother to stay away from Nina because she is Garcia's girl. He advises Don to leave Nina alone. Bob goes to look for his two friends, but Don wants to stay and watch Nina perform again.
In the barracks Don talks with Muggsy, while Bob works on fixing a machine gun. Bilgey asks Bob what's wrong with him lately? He's been rather anti-social. Bob says he's worried about his brother. He's worried about a possible confrontation between Don and Garcia.
Bob sees his brother heading out in the middle of the day. He stops Don and tells him it's not a good thing to be going to a cafe at this time of the day. Don says that Bob has feelings for Nina and wonders if Bob isn't just jealous of him. Muggsy comes over to Bob and tells him to quit being a big brother and just be a pal. Bob says alright.
Don is drinking heavily while talking with Nina. She suggests that he not drink so much and he compares her to Bob. And he's had enough lectures from him without Nina joining in with Bob. His tone is so sharp that Nina starts to leave him. He grabs her arm and apologizes to her. She sits down. Don tries to kiss her, but she won't allow that. He says she's been leading him on and has someone else on the side.
Bob and the pals come into the cafe. Nina tells Don there is someone else andstarts to leave the table to greet Bob and company. Don grabs her and holds her tight saying that he can handle that Garcia fellow. He struggles with Nina to kiss her.
Bob comes over and Don stops. Bob tells him that he is too stubborn and foolish to listen to a big brother's advise. So from now on, Don is on his own. Bob then tells Nina that she doesn't have too much sense either. Don comes to Nina's defense. Big brother tells him to settle down because he's not saying another word. He just washes his hands of Don.
Nina lets Don kiss her lightly on the lips and that's just the time that Garcia walks in. He's mad and confronts Don. Don pushes him back onto another table. Garcia tells Bob to take his brother to the guard house. He struck his superior. Bob tells Don that he is under arrest. Don does not resist.
Bob tells Don that he will be put in the penal battalion and that's not going to be easy to survive.
Nina tells her servant that she must help the brothers. She wants her to find some friends of Ahmed so she can send a message to him. The servant goes to find the two men she knows are with Ahmed.
In the barracks Bob tells his friends that he is going to see Col. Laurant. The guys nearly beg him not to do that, but there's no stopping Bob.
Two men comefrom Ahmed to see Nina. They ask if she has any credentials? She hands over Ahmed's calling card with a note on the backs that says: "I place myself at the command of a delightful dancer and a beautiful lady." That's good enough for the guys.
She wants the guys to get Don out of here tonight. And then take him to Oran so he can grab a ship. The men say they will do it.
Col. Laurant says Bob is coming to him without talking to his superior officer about it. But he is going to make an exception this time. Bob asks the colonel to give the boy another chance to straighten up. The colonel says he will see what he can do for Don only because of Bob's splendid record with the Legion.
Ahmed's men overpower the guard and go in and get Don. Don puts on a turban and takes off with the Arabs. The alarm is triggered pretty quickly after the escape. Everybody gets up out of their bunks and get dressed.
Bob and his friends search all over the place with no luck. Then Muggsy says that Don's probably with Nina. They all go rushing out to the cafe. Bob talks with her sitting on her bed. He says: "Perhaps I have been all wrong about you, but I think you know where Don is." Nina wants to make it clear that Garcia doesn't mean anything to her. Bob now says he believes her.
So where's Don? Nina tells Bob that she doesn't love Don either. She just wanted to get him out of the country, so he wouldn't be a constant burden to Don (and Nina herself). Muggsy and Bilgey says when the Legion catches Don, he will go before a firing squad. That upsets Nina so she tells them that two of Ahmed's men are taking Don to Oran. Bob says that the Arabs are sure to kill Don. He tells his buddies that maybe he can get to the three men in time to save Don. Muggsy and Bilgey say they're going with Bob and they don't care if they do get court-martialed. They all leave the cafe.
Now Nina says to her servant that she's going after Don and Bob too. She quickly changes out of her night gown.
Bob and his friends catch up with the Arabs and Don. They shoot one of the Arabs and the otherman rides away. Don still plays the tough guy. He tells Bob that he's getting out of the country and Bob can't stop him. So Bob knocks him off his feet with a blow to the head.
Now a large groups of Arabs descend on the guys. They are all taken to see Ahmed. The guys tell Ahmed that they are all deserting from the Legion. Ahmed mostly wants to know if any of the Legionnaires knows anything about machine guns? Sure. Bob is an expert on machine guns.
Ahmed now learns that thelegionnaires are lying to him. Ahmed tells his guards to take away all the legionnaires, but leave Don Carter with him. The Arab leader asks Don if he know anything about machine guns? Yes, he does. If Don cooperates with Ahmed, he might just get to see his brother and friends later.
The colonel says he is not going to send out a detachment to find the four deserters. Either they will die of thirst in the desert or some of Ahmed's men will torture and then kill them. He says he is sending Captain Dubois with the 20th Marching Company to take over Fort Al-Hassan. It's a vital spot. And Ahmed reportedly is planning an attack on it. The captain's orders are to hold the fort at any cost.
Ahmed watches Don fail to put the machine gun together correctly. The leader is told that Nina has come. Nina says she wants to see the men. Ahmed has her look down onto the courtyard where she sees Don still struggling with the machine gun. She asks to see him.
Don and Nina are left alone. She pulls Don over to a far side of the room and tells him that they have to get out of here now because Ahmed is not their friend. He is an enemy. Don says he's not going back to Tabala. And, besides, Bob and the boys are here.
Nina is despondent saying that this is all her fault. It finally comes to Don that Nina is in love with Bob. She says she has always loved Bob.
Ahmed comes back in. Nina asks for the release of the four men, but he says it's impossible. He calls for the servant and tells him to get an escort for Nina who is going back to Tabala.
Bob Carter is brought to see Ahmed, who tells him he must assemble the machine guns. No dice, Ahmed. Ahmed says he can make Bob cooperate. He opens a drape and sees Don hanging against a wall by one chained hand. Bob says he will do the job, ifAhmed lets Don down and the four of the guys can be together working on the machine guns.
Bob and all the guys are together again working on the machine guns, but Bob tells the guys that only two of the machine guns are going to work. Ahmed comes in and Bob tells him one of the machine guns is ready to go. Ahmed tells two his men to take the machine gun to where it can be tested. He wants Bob to teach his men how to use the machine guns. Later the four legionnaires will be dressed in Arab garb and fight alongside them as they attack the fort.
The Arabs gather together to head out to take the fort. Bob works on another machine gun. Nina sits down beside him and tells him that she is sorry. She starts crying. He cheers her up. She says she would give her life to save Bob. Bob tells her he doesn't want that, but she can do something for all of them. He wants Nina to escape from the palace. Get to Tabala and tell the Legion that Ahmed is going to attack Fort Ra-hah. (? can't hear the name of the fort clearly). She says she will do it for Bob and then gives him a good kiss.
Nina does escape and is now crossing the desert. She sees a group of legionnaires marching through the sand. She rides down to them to warn them that Ahmed is going to attack Fort Ra-hah. She just escaped from him and that's how she knows he changed the target fort from Fort Al-Hassan to Fort Ra-hah. The soldiers change the direction of march.
At the target fort a sentry sees movement outside between the sand dunes. The commandant is warned and he puts more men on the parapet.
Bob and Don are put on one machine gun, while Muggsy and Bilgey are put on another. If they don't fire their machine guns, they will be gun down by theArab machine gunners.
Don tells Bob that Nina told him that she is in love with Bob.
The Arabs now spot the marching Legionnaires. The plan is to capture the fort before the marching Legionnaires can reach the fort. The attack begins. The advance group takes up rifle positions just at the top of a sand dune. They open fire and the fort returns fire. Bob now opens up on the riflemen, killing or wounding all of them. Muggsy now starts firing his machine gun, but he is shot in the back by an Arab.
The Arab horsemen reach the front of the fort, but many are cut down between the legionnaires in the fortalong with Bob and Don on the machine gun. They start retreating and Bob keeps up a steady fire on them. Don now gets shot. Bob checks on his brother, but he's already dead.
The fort is saved. The Legionnaires with Nina on horse back march through Tabala in triumph.
This film is only a little more than an hour in length, but it seems to have the same tales to tell as the other Foreign Legion films. It was short, but entertaining. It's set in Morocco but none of the place names are names of real places. Two brothers in the Legion plus their sergeant are in love with Nina, a pretty singer in the local cafe. This makes all their lives more complicated than necessary. There is verbal fighting between all four people. The two brothers and two of their legionnaire friends get captured by the Arab tribesmen. Since the Legion assumes the four men are dead, it looks like the only chance they have is if Nina comes to the rescue. The acting was pretty good. I wasn't excepting much, so I actually thought the movie was okay.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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