Sahara (1943)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Sahara</strong> (1943)

(On TV, October 2018) Considering the time it now takes to make movies and bring them to market, it’s sometimes amazing to watch WW2-era films discussing events that happened mere months prior to their release. It’s even more amazing to find out that some of them remain remarkably effective even despite their ridiculously short gestation period. So it is that Sahara is a welcome surprise: a solid war adventure set during the African campaign of WW2. It certainly helps that it features no less than Humphrey Bogart as the commanding officer of a lost tank trying to rejoin their main battalion after a fierce battle. Lost in the desert, they gradually find other survivors and spend the first half of the film searching for an oasis. Alas, their troubles only begin when they do find a source of water—before long, they find themselves guarding a dry well against a much larger force of Nazi soldiers. Action, derring-do, amazing coincidences and character drama all punctuate the second half of the film, raising the stakes and providing a capable war adventure made as it was going on. There is a really interesting moment midway through the film in which the Italian character blames the German character for his nation having duped in joining the alliance—a far more nuanced portrait of the enemy than you would have expected at the time. Bogart is quite good in the lead, with a secondary role by a young Lloyd Bridges—and this is one of those rare films with an all-male cast. Sahara firmly belongs in the “war is an adventure” school of filmmaking: the film is not trying to make a statement about the futility of it, but neither is it unbearable propaganda. A clever, tight script wraps everything together in a topical war drama that has nevertheless withstood the test of time significantly better than most of its contemporaries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *