Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Early John Ford film, "The Lost Patrol" features Boris Karloff as a religious fanatic

This early John Ford film from 1934 may have served as partial inspiration for later films, Aguirre: The Wrath of God, Apocalypse Now and even El Topo. It tells the story of a lost British Army unit in the Mesopotamian desert, slowly being killed, or picked off one by one.

Ford's opening scene is a classic. A lone British soldier on a horse, at first looks superior, surveying the landscape. Suddenly, he slumps off his horse, dead, victim of an unseen Arab assassin. The anxiety and feelings of deadly claustrophobia stay with the soldiers as they die in Ten Little Indians style. Victor McLagen, Wallace Ford, and Reginald Denny are among the soldiers under siege during World War I, but the best acting comes from Boris Karloff, who plays a religious soldier under stress who turns fanatical. This is a great ensemble film, made just before the Hayes Office made soldiers in the heat of battle all be angels.
-- Doug Gibson

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