Bob Adams, ace newsreel cameraman, is told by his boss, "Get the picture---we can't screen alibis." He heads for Samari, a desert hot-bed of tribal unrest in Africa, to do just that, which includes getting footage of El Kadar, bandit and rebel leader. He gets his pictures but only after a romance with the Colonel's daughter Pamela, saving his wimpy, hacked-off brother Don from being a dupe of the gun-runners, and run-ins with spies and throat-cutting tribesman. For a finale, he saves the British Army.
28 Nov I Cover the War! (1937)
Before ‘Stagecoach’ turned John Wayne into a celebrated wooden actor, he was a an ordinary uncelebrated one in a series of odd projects. Probably the most interesting of these odd deals is this movie. It doesn’t seem to be rentable.
In terms of the actual production, it is the standard mess, made a bit worse by the fact that you have to portray war and Arabs. There’s lots of fun in it though. Wayne is a dummy and there’s less wrapping on that. The setup has to do with Brits and Arabs and has plenty of stuff to chew on: occupation, resistance, duped natives, gunrunning, subterfuge… all things that resonate differently now.
But what interests me is the folding. It was a great adventure of the industry to discover different means to write themselves and the viewers into the film. All sorts of different things: writers in the story, actors, filmmakers, con men. One of the most interesting to me is the newsroom centre, something that has energy that we have in no other place today.
A cool slant on that was the newsreel crew. More dangerous, more relevant to the folding notion. Here, Wayne‘s character is making movies that are fresh and dangerous. There capturing of the images is folded into the drama of the story — no matter that the story is trite.
It is a curiosity that to me is more interesting than any of the celebrated Wayne movies.
Posted in 2006
Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.