Wind and the Lion, The (1975)

The Wind and the Lion (1975), written and directed by John Milius.

"Pedecaris alive or Raisuli dead." -- TR.

We get right to it: a peaceful day in Tangier, Morocco is violated by raiding bloodthirsty desert tribesman who carry off an American woman and her two children. President Teddy Roosevelt isn't having that and sends in the Marines.

It takes us a while to understand the intended film genre: this is a light retro-adventure, playing off the romantic action pictures of earlier decades. The captives are not abused and the violence is sanitary. We even get a hint of an old Victorian plot, of the woman expecting to be ravished and perhaps a bit let down when it doesn't happen.

Sean Connery is the Raisuli: that Scotsman gets around. And yet, there is no denying he makes it work. That confident, amused, great-hearted masculinity suits the desert brigand/leader very well.

Brian Keith is a hoot as President Roosevelt, the happiest man with the happiest family to ever occupy the White House. He was sort of an American Churchill: a strong-willed and visionary imperialist subject to boyish enthusiasms. TR knew his image and used it as a political tool, but wasn't faking it.

Like the viewer, Candice Bergen seems initially uncertain as to what sort of story she is in. She gets better when she settles into old-time action/adventure.

Milius obviously admires each of these strong characters. He's more ascerbic about politicians, diplomats and generals.

Misc notes:

Jerry Goldsmith score, nicely evocative of old-school adventure films.

Available on Blu-ray with a commentary track by the director. Warner Archive Collection