powered by AFI
In 1941 a British officer, Major Richardson, and his reconnaissance pilot, Lieutenant Burke, fall into the hands of an Italian patrol when their plane crashes in the Abyssinian desert. Although an immediate dislike springs up between Richardson and his captor, Captain Blasi, the Italian, hoping to conserve his scant rations, allows the two Englishmen to escape on condition that the British do not pursue his patrol. Later, when Richardson is ordered by his commanding officer to attack the fort in which the Italians are hiding, Blasi regards the action as an ungentlemanly act of treachery. Following a forest fire which drives both sides to the safety of a small island, Richardson captures Blasi and his men and sets out in the general direction of his base. Hopelessly lost, he leads the two groups to a deserted Italian fort, where they meet hostile native tribesmen who take their rifles and shoes. The blunders made by the two officers help to thaw their animosity, and a grudging friendship develops between them. Eventually they stumble into Addis Ababa, which is now, unexpectedly, in the hands of the British. As Blasi and his men are lined up for shipment to a prisoner of war camp, Richardson and his men dignify the Italians' defeat by giving them a respectful military salute.