A stirring, if grossly inaccurate, look at the dawn of US interventionism, THE WIND AND THE LION features Brian Keith as a Teddy Roosevelt determined to establish his Presidential identity, having come to office after the death of William McKinley. When a rebellious Arab chieftain, Mulay
el Raisuli (Sean Connery), seizes American woman Eden Pedecaris (Candice Bergen) and her children, Roosevelt prepares to send in the Marines. At the same time the Germans land in North Africa in force, looking for a way to turn the situation to their advantage. The chieftain and Eden talk a great
deal of philosophy, and the Arab ruler begins to take on heroic stature in the eyes of her son. Eventually, under pressure from Roosevelt, Raisuli releases his hostages to the Marines and is immediately arrested and imprisoned by the Germans. The Marines are none too happy about this
development--since Roosevelt had promised Raisuli his freedom if he released his prisoners--so they march into the town (in a scene almost directly stolen from THE WILD BUNCH) and shoot it out with the Germans.
THE WIND AND THE LION is certainly jingoistic to a fault, and its portrayal of the various factions is little above the cartoon level, but thanks to marvelous performances by Keith and Connery, the film works as a maker of myths. The real facts of the incident were not so grand: Raisuli, a brigand
chief, kidnapped a balding, overweight businessman who bore no resemblance to the lovely Bergen, to embarrass the Sultan of Morocco, who was already having troubles with the US. The man was freed after only a couple of days, but before his release was made public, the Republican Party, looking for
a rallying issue, announced that a telegram had been sent to the kidnapper demanding the man be freed or Raisuli would be pay with his life. No troops landed. No one was killed. But historical truth isn't what's important here; heroes and myth are the currency of this film, and it delivers two
heroes in admirable fashion.
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- Released: 1975
- Rating: PG
- Review: A stirring, if grossly inaccurate, look at the dawn of US interventionism, THE WIND AND THE LION features Brian Keith as a Teddy Roosevelt determined to establish his Presidential identity, having come to office after the death of William McKinley. When a… (more)