John Milius

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7.0 Dillinger (1973)
6.0 The Wind And The Lion (1975)

John Milius (USA, 1944) scripted films for Sydney Pollack and John Huston.

He then directed Dillinger (1973)

The Wind And The Lion (1975) is an exotic epic worthy of the kind that was popular in the early days of Hollywood, and no less ridiculously inaccurate at times.

A band of horsemen charges wildly through a beach, slaughtering anyone along the way. At the same time an elderly British man and a middle-aged USA woman, Eden, are having breakfast in a luxuriant mansion on top of a hill, while the woman's children, William and Jennifer, play in the gardens, all of them impeccably dressed and well behaved. The barbaric horde enters the town and rides through the narrow alleys of the market, terrorizing the crowds. The rich westerners hear distant echoes of the turmoil. Finally the horsemen attack the mansion. The elderly men shoots a few of them but eventually runs out of bullets. The band breaks into the house, destroys, loots and slaughters. They take the woman and the two children and run away, as fast as they came.
This is Morocco in 1904. The news travels to the USA where the gun-loving president decides to make it a reelection issue: barbars should not be allowed to kidnap USA citizens.
The horsemen wake up their hostages, after camping a night on the beach, with Eden protesting in vain to Raisuli (an ignorant Berber who, of course, speaks fluent English in a British accent). In the meantime, the USA ambassador is asked to provide a gift of lions before he can meet with the sultan to discuss the situation.
Eden and the children witness Raisuli's cruelty when he personally executes two men who disobeyed him. Raisuli and Eden tediously spar (when they don't play chess), while Raisuli manages to explain that he is actually some kind of hero, fighting the entire class of corrupt Moroccan politicians that supports the European colonists.
The USA ambassador delivers the lions and is granted an audience with the sultan. The sultan's palace is a playground where he has ammassed all the gifts received from foreign countries: bicycles (that nobody knows how to ride), footballs, machine guns, colossal carriages. The ambassador demands that the sultan does something to win the release of the woman and her children, but the ambassador is inept and a coward. In return for the hostages Raisuli demands not money but the land. In the meantime, the USA president cuts his birthday party (making the cut over a map of the Americas in the place where the Panama Canal will be built) and announces his intention to use military force to free Eden.
Eden manages to take the children and run away, but only to be sold to a worse bandit leading an even more brutal gang. Raisuli finds them and, alone, kills all the bandits and brings the three back to his camp. Eden is both terrified and fascinated by Raisuli, especially after he tells her the story of how he spent so many years in prison and witnessed the atrocities of the rulers.
The USA marines land in Morocco and storm the palace of the sultan, upsetting not only the Moroccans but also all the European powers who are vying for control of the country. This puts pressure on the sultan to grant Raisuli what he demands. Eden guesses that he is being duped into a bad deal, but he refuses to listen to a woman. The woman was right: when Raisuli delivers the hostages, the USA take them, but German and Moroccan troops arrest him. Eden tries to talk the USA captain into helping Raisuli. Eventually, she takes him hostage with the help of his children and threatens to cut his throat. This convinces him. In the meantime a friend of Raisuli has mustered a small army and is ready to attack too. The USA troops and the bandits fight together against the Germans and the Moroccans while Eden finds and frees Raisuli (who has been hanged from his feet in a cell).

He then directed very mediocre films: the surfing movie Big Wednesday (1978), Conan the Barbarian (1982), Red Dawn (1984), Farewell to the King (1989), and Flight of the Intruder (1991).

(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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