Saturday, 18 July 2020

Movie Review: Adventure In Iraq (1943)


A rough and tumble B-movie, Adventure In Iraq is a brisk low-budget gallop through a World War Two backwater.

En route to Cairo, a plane carrying hot-headed Air Force pilot Doug Everett (Warren Douglas), his dream girl Tess Torrence (Ruth Ford), and her lackadaisical soon-to-be ex-husband George (John Loder) runs into mechanical trouble and lands in the remote Iraqi desert. With the radio broken the trio are unable to call for help, and they hike ten miles to the remote town of Ghatsi, populated by Satan worshippers and governed by tribal leader Sheik Ahmid Bel Nor (Paul Cavanagh).

Sheik Ahmed is considering a financial offer to declare loyalty to the Nazis but is anyway surprisingly hospitable towards his guests, and his butler Devins (Barry Bernard) helps Doug, Tess and George settle in. But then word arrives that three of the Sheik's half-brothers are to be executed by the British in Baghdad, and he threatens to kill his three guests in retaliation unless Tess agrees to marry him and become his Queen.

Clocking in at a meagre 65 minutes, Adventure In Iraq still manages to run out of ideas. The George Bilson script, adapting William Archer novel The Green Goddess, resorts to repetition and time wasting as the plot maneuvers to a laughably unlikely climax. Along the way, director D. Ross Lederman manages to insult multiple cultures, from the portrayal of the bedouin Arabs as blood-thirsty Satan-worshippers to ugly American behaviour towards the locals passing through Devins as a refugee from unwelcoming British classism.

And yet the film manages to be better than it needed to be, mainly thanks to Paul Cavanagh's performance as Sheik Ahmid Bel Nor. Dripping with dangerous charm, the Sheik speaks his mind with disarming honesty, and whether playing the gracious host or reluctant executor, communicates with an easy smile and a compelling spark in his eye.

Elsewhere the relationship between the three stranded passengers is clumsy. John Loder is top billed as George, but plays a distant second fiddle to the over-excited Warren Douglas as Doug. Ruth Ford is pleasingly feisty, although the romantic triangle remains more of an intention rather than a theme. 

Adventure In Iraq never threatens to be any good, but offers just enough to avoid a total loss in the desert.






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