War is Hell, but war in the desert is even worse than that. Making movies about conflict is a staple in Hollywood and film makers have not ignored complicated stories about war in the desert. In most cases, they try to show how man succeeds or fails under the worst circumstances and how the battle to overcome the difficult environment is a central theme in the conflict. Here are five desert warfare movies that will make you hate the sand.
"Gunga Din" (1939)
In this classic, three British officers are trying to quell an uprising in India. Despite the military experience of Cutter (Cary Grant), MacChesney (Victor McLaglen) and Ballantine (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.), it is the thoughtful and creative work of servant Gunga Din (Sam Jaffe) that saves the day. The movie’s undying themes are friendship and loyalty, and nobody displayed them better than the overworked Gunga Din.
This World War II movie was actually filmed during the war and is designed as a piece of propaganda to help Americans understand the reason behind the war, particularly the war in Africa. The movie is the story of an undersized American unit, led Sgt. Joe Gunn (Humphrey Bogart) and their effort to get through a much larger German unit so they can rejoin their command. The difficulty of fighting in the desert is shown by the unit’s need for water as the battle progresses.
"March or Die" (1977)
American soldier William Sherman Foster (Gene Hackman) joins the French Foreign Legion after he is dismissed by West Point. He is haunted by his memories of past battles and he goes through a demanding training period before he is assigned to guard a group of scientists on an archaeological dig in Morocco. When they stumble on an ancient burial ground sacred to the locals, it starts a holy war and Foster has to lead a motley crew of fighters.
Marine Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhall) is a thinking marine who is waiting for the Gulf War to begin. After struggling through training, Swofford becomes a marine sniper and he must wait for his action to begin after his unit is shipped to the desert. Swofford waits for nearly six months before Operation Desert Storm breaks out, and that turns out to be a successful effort that ends within a week. Despite the initial boredom, Swofford sees plenty of action along the way that burns its way in his memory.
"Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion" (1950)
Bud Jones (Bud Abbott) and Lou Hotchkiss (Lou Costello) are a couple of street wise fight promoters who are trying to corral their runaway wrestler and they follow him all the way to Algiers. While they are there, they are tricked into joining the French Foreign Legion.They are forced to contend with demanding Sgt. Axmann (Walter Slezak) and his nasty tricks. While trying to survive in the desert, Lou has wild mirages that turn this desert war movie into one of the comedy duo’s most amusing films.