Based very loosely on a historical incident which took place in 1904, involving president Teddy Roosevelt in vote-catching reprisals for the kidnapping of an American citizen (here transformed into Candice Bergen and her two children) by a group of Arab 'bandits' in Morocco, Milius' film revives the desert epic with wit, style and a compelling brilliance in his handling of the Panavision format. Milius once more reveals that his overriding concern is with the formation of myth rather than realism, as he balances the fates of his two legendary figures - Brian Keith's Roosevelt and Sean Connery's kidnapper Raisuli - to dynamic effect. The result compares interestingly with the Paul Schrader-scripted The Yakuza, also much bound up with 'proving' an identity between two apparently alien codes. Towards the end, Milius does allow his film to become a distinctly naïve fanfare on behalf of American interventionist policies, but then it is a film that thrives on a species of naïveté. VG.
Cast and crew