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teaser Bengazi (1955)

This recycling of plot points from Casablanca (1942), To Have and Have Not (1944), The Lost Patrol (1934), and Desert Nights (1929) - whose adaptor, Endre Bohem, shares a writing credit here - was the work of reliable director John Brahm. The German migr had kicked off his film career with a 1938 remake of D.W. Griffith's silent Broken Blossoms and he made a reputation for himself in Hollywood by remaking existing films and giving tired formulas a stylish brush-up. Following the success of Universal's The Wolf Man (1941), Brahm helmed the 20th Century Fox copycat The Undying Monster (1942) before turning his attention to a 1944 remake of Alfred Hitchcock's The Lodger. Brahm eventually drifted to television but not before banging out this second feature for RKO Radio Pictures. In Bengazi (1955), Richard Conte and Victor McLaglen play expatriate gunrunners whose scheme to salvage a cache of Nazi gold from a ruined Muslim temple deep in the Libyan desert is upset by the arrival of McLaglen's daughter (Mala Powers) and an attack by angry Bedouins. Richard Carlson costars as a Scottish inspector who is determined to put the partners out of business but who must join forces with them in order to make it out of Bengazi alive. The film was photographed by Joseph Biroc, who later became Robert Aldrich's cinematographer-of-choice (Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Flight of the Phoenix, Ulzana's Raid) and capped his distinguished career with such Hollywood send-ups as Blazing Saddles (1974) and Airplane! (1980).

By Richard Harland Smith

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