By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Three Beers) –
Brigand Raisuli (Sean Connery) is the leader of a large band of Berber horsemen, infamous for attacking and plundering the lands of the Sultan of Morocco. During one of his raids, he kidnaps wealthy american widow Eden Pedecaris (Candice Bergen) and her children, intent on ransoming them for fun and profit. Meanwhile across the pond, President Theodore Roosevelt (Brian Keith) sees the incident as a way for America to make a demonstration of force, and in between boxing matches, hunting parties and domestic politics decides to order a contingent of marines to invade Morocco.
Director John Milius is well known in Hollywood for his obsession with history, particularly the life and times of Theodore Roosevelt. He also loves to re-tell history as he’d have written it, with extra action, adventure, and quotes that you’d believe the real figures might have said (but probably didn’t).
“I’d never shoot someone accidentally… I need their votes” – Theodore Roosevelt, presumably
This isn’t to say the revisionist history isn’t damned entertaining though, with real characters and events adapted to fit within the context of a classic-style adventure film, and in this Milius is particularly effective. Buoyed by stellar cinematography, and Jerry Goldsmith’s excellent score, this is a film with very few dull moments. On top of that, the chief cast of Sean Connery, Candice Bergen, Brian Keith, and John Huston all deliver solid performances.
With that said, like many Milius films, the dialog can segue strangely into expository sentences. At times, it seems as if it isn’t so much dialog as Milius quoting a few lines from history books he was reading. This does have the advantage of bringing the audience up to speed on the background of events the film is based on, but can feel out of place among his more stylistic dialog.
“Why, if it isn’t J.P. Morgan, who supported my 1904 campaign reluctantly, since I worked against his interests in my crusade against unregulated Corporate Trusts, I …”
(I’m exaggerating a bit here, but trust me, it can be clunky)
Connery’s accent may seem ridiculous for a character who is supposed to be a North African Muslim, and that is because it is. In this modern era of political correctness the same character would likely be played by someone less… Scottish. With that said though, Connery gives his all, and never for a moment feels like he is playing a racist caricature. Later in 1986, Connery would further explore this side of him as he played Egyptian-Spanish (and later, Zeistian) Juan Sanches Villa-Lobos Ramirez.
This in a film about a Scottish Highlander, played by a Frenchman…
A solid (if slightly flawed) period epic, with a unique story. Hampered by occasionally hammy dialogue.
Take a Drink: whenever someone mentions “the big stick”
Take a Drink: every time Roosevelt does something badass, only to follow it up with something more badass
Do a Shot: for “Fuck yeah, Uh-Merica” moments