- March or Die (film)
March or Die
Theatrical release poster Tom Jung
Directed by Dick Richards Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer
Written by David Zelag Goodman Starring Gene Hackman
Max von Sydow
Music by Maurice Jarre Cinematography John Alcott Distributed by Columbia Pictures Release date(s) 1977 Running time 104 min. Language English
The film celebrates the 1920s French Foreign Legion. Foreign Legion Major Foster (Hackman), a war-weary American haunted by his memories of the recently-ended Great War, is assigned to protect a group of archaeologists at a dig site in Erfoud in Morocco from Bedouin revolutionaries led by El-Kirm (based on Moroccan revolutionary Abd el-Krim).
Soon after the Great War, Major Foster (Hackman), the commander of a detachment of the French Foreign Legion, suffers the haunting memories of leading an army of 8,000, now reduced to 200. He became an alcoholic as a result, and his only friend is his faithful Sergeant, Triand (Rufus Narcy).
Foster arrives in Paris to assume a new command: to return to the Rif (Morocco) to re-establish French authority, as Bedouin and Berber tribes have begun to revolt against French rule. Foster is also ordered to escort archeologists from the Louvre, who are uncovering an ancient city near Erfoud buried by a sand storm 3,000 years ago. The site is the final resting place of a Berber saint, "The Angel of the Desert". Foster was chosen for the assignment, as he is the only French officer alive who served in Morocco before the war. He had helped to develop diplomatic ties with the tribes, especially with El Krim, the de facto leader of the scattered Rif tribes. Foster had vowed to El Krim that there would be no further archeological excavations.
Foster’s force is assembled. Among those who volunteer, willingly or unwillingly, is "the Gypsy" Marco Segrain (Terence Hill), a charming jewel thief famous for a three-year crime spree on the Riviera until French authorities managed to apprehend him. Gypsy befriends three other recruits: the Russian giant Ivan (Jack O'Halloran), formerly a member of the elite bodyguard of the deposed Russian Imperial family; “Top Hat” Gilbert Francis (André Penvern), a fashionable man and musician who lacks the physical traits needed in a soldier; and Fredrick Hastings (Paul Sherman), a romantic young English aristocrat who missed the Great War.
The four friends are soon disillusioned by the harsh realities of life in the Legion. A fatal fight breaks out among the men while traveling to Morocco over a homophobic insult to Maj. Foster's honor, to which Sgt. Triand takes exception. Foster does not hesitate to harshly discipline his men, especially Marco, who frequently disobeys orders, though he does care for his men. During the voyage, Marco charms Mme. Picard (Catherine Deneuve), daughter of a murdered archaeologist.
During their land journey to the Legion fortress, the train carrying the Legionnaires and the archaeological team is stopped by El Krim (Ian Holm) and his men. El Krim greets his old friend Foster but also declares that he is determined to unite the Berber tribes to drive the French out of Morocco. El Krim gives a "gift" to Foster to take back to the Premier of France: the archeologists of an earlier dig, who have been blinded and whose tongues have been cut out. He warns Foster not continue the excavation.
Training in the desert is so harsh, it pushes Top Hat to the point of suicide. Later, at the digging site, Hastings is kidnapped while on guard duty and tortured to death by one of El Krim’s men, whom El Krim excuses as being merely over-zealous. Marco retaliates. Instead of disciplining him, Foster merely defends him, using El Krim’s previous excuse for the actions of his own man.
Eventually, the tomb of the Angel of the Desert is found, and her golden sarcophagus is excavated. Foster offers it to El Krim as a token of peace, but El Krim rallies the warriors of all Bedouin tribes to fight a climactic battle. With the Legionnaires being heavily outnumbered, the digging site is eventually over-run. Ivan is killed, but Marco fights on, single-handedly fending off a flank attack. When Foster is killed, El Krim immediately calls off the fight, sending the surviving Legionnaires “to tell the world what happened” and out of respect for his dead friend.
There are two endings: the TV version ends with Marco taking up Mme Picard's offer to desert. The theatrical ending shows Marco (after having been promoted for his bravery in battle) staying behind and training more Legionnaire recruits, welcoming them by reiterating Foster's warning: "If the desert doesn't get you, the Arabs will. If the Arabs don't get you, the Legion will. And if the Legion doesn't, then I will. I don't know which is worse."
Actor Character Gene Hackman Major William Sharman Foster Terence Hill Marco Segrain Catherine Deneuve Simone Picard Max von Sydow Francois Marneau Ian Holm El Krim Jack O'Halloran Ivan Rufus Sgt. Triand Marcel Bozzuffi Lt. Fontaine Andre Penvern Top Hat Paul Sherman Fred Hastings Vernon Dobtcheff Mean Corporal Marne Maitland Leon Gigi Bonos Andre Wolf Kahler First German Mathias Hell Second German Jean Champion Minister Walter Gotell Col. Lamont Paul Antrim Mollard Catherine Willmer Petite Lady Arnold Diamond Husband Maurice Arden Pierre Lahoud Albert Woods Henri Delacorte Liliane Rovere Lola Elisabeth Mortensen French Street Girl Francois Valorbe Detective Villena Gendarme Ernest Misko Aide in Minister's office Guy Deghy Ship's Captain Jean Rougerie Legionnaire 1 (at station) Guy Mairesse Legionnaire 2 (at station) Eve Brenner Singing Girl Guy Marly Singing Legionnaire Margaret Modlin Lady in Black Films directed by Dick Richards 1970s 1980s Film and television media produced by Jerry Bruckheimer Films1970s1980s1990s2000sRemember the Titans (2000) · Coyote Ugly (2000) · Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000) · Black Hawk Down (2001) · Pearl Harbor (2001) · Bad Company (2002) · Bad Boys II (2003) · Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) · Veronica Guerin (2003) · Kangaroo Jack (2003) · National Treasure (2004) · King Arthur (2004) · Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) · Déjà Vu (2006) · Glory Road (2006) · Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007) · National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007) · G-Force (2009) · Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009)2010sPrince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010) · The Sorcerer's Apprentice (2010) · Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) Television1990s2000sCSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000–present) · The Amazing Race (2001–present) · Without a Trace (2002–2009) · CSI: Miami (2002–present) · Skin (2003) · Cold Case (2003–2010) · Fearless (2004) (co-producer) · CSI: NY (2004–present) · Just Legal (2005–2006) · E-Ring (2005–2006) · Close to Home (2005–2007) · Justice (2006) · Modern Men (2006) · Eleventh Hour (2008–2009) · The Forgotten (2009–2010) · Dark Blue (2009–2010)2010s Films - Producer unless otherwise noted; Television - Executive producer unless otherwise noted
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