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In 1805, the United States declares war against pirates operating out of the coastal city of Tripoli, who force U.S. merchant ships to pay tribute for safe passage. Marine lieutenant Presley O'Bannon, who rose through the ranks, patrols the Mediterranean Sea on a Navy ship, and volunteers his troops for a special mission to take control of the coast along Tripoli. This plan, commissioned by President Thomas Jefferson, entails a double-fisted attack, whereby an army of soldiers will cross the desert to attack the Derna port, near Tripoli, while a brigade of ships backs them up from the sea. By conquering Derna, they will control the passage of ships to Tripoli. To initiate the plan, General William Eaton leads O'Bannon, Navy commissioned officer Lieutenant Tripp and their troops ashore to meet with exiled King Hamet Karamanly, a friend of the Americans, who lost his Arab crown to his brother. Aware that the U.S. will make peace with his brother if he does not comply, Hamet agrees to provide ground forces for the campaign. O'Bannon is put in charge of the military aspect of the campaign, even though he is only a lieutenant. Supplies and recruits are gathered for the long march, which will take one month to complete, and although Hamet is allowed to bring his group of dancing women, O'Bannon refuses to allow the Countess D'Arneau, a high-class gold digger who hopes to marry Hamet, to accompany them. After the convoy is underway, however, O'Bannon discovers that Hamet has allowed the countess to disguise herself as one of his dancers. O'Bannon squelches her plot by insisting that she ride with the rest of the lowly dancers. Later, when he finds that the only watering hole within hundreds of miles has been destroyed, O'Bannon realizes that the convoy is being followed by a band of Tripolites. O'Bannon detours the convoy across the desert to the closest watering hole, despite the protests of Hamet, who intends to turn back until O'Bannon destroys his limited water supply. One night, the willful countess strays from camp, and after O'Bannon reprimands her, they kiss. Their romantic moment is interrupted by Captain Demetrios, head of the Greek regiment, who reports that they must immediately de-camp due to an impending sandstorm. The caravan pushes on through the blinding sandstorm, finding respite only when it finally reaches the watering hole. O'Bannon offers shelter to a traveling merchant, unaware that the merchant is actually an agent of Hamet's brother, who convinces Hamet to double-cross the Americans in order to regain his crown. By the time the convoy reaches the coast, the merchant has incited the Arabs to mutiny, but O'Bannon, Tripp and Demetrios put down the mutiny and make contact with General Eaton and Commodore Barron, who have been waiting off the coast for their arrival. O'Bannon insists that he needs more men to launch an attack, but is forced to back down due to Barron's superior rank. Hamet, meanwhile, gives his brother's agent the plans for the American attack. As the American ships begin bombarding Derna, O'Bannon and Tripp wait for a signal on land. When the countess finds out about Hamet's duplicity, she races to tell O'Bannon, who immediately signals Barron's ship to cease fire. Having been informed by the countess that the powerful cannons of Derna have been moved for a surprise attack, O'Bannon signals Barron to hold fire until he is able to signal from the new location. Although at first resistant to taking orders from an underling, Barron complies, and O'Bannon puts Tripp in command of the cavalry charge. While Tripp's forces attack the fortress walls, O'Bannon, Demetrios and O'Bannon's sergeant, Derek, infiltrate Derna dressed as Arabs. When they locate the cannons stashed inside the palace, O'Bannon fights his way in and sets a fire. Barron starts the new barrage after seeing the smoke signal, and O'Bannon is trapped inside the palace. Seeing that his plan has failed, Hamet now shifts his strategy to help the American forces take over Derna. After relentless bombardment, O'Bannon manages to fly an American flag over the city to signal a cease fire. Although many have died, the battle marks the first American victory on foreign soil. The countess and O'Bannon confess their love for each other, and Derna is declared secure.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||New York opening: 9 Nov 1950|
|Release Date:||1950||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Color (Technicolor)||Distributions Co:||Paramount Pictures Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Pine-Thomas Productions|
|Duration(feet):||8,524 or 8,623|
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tripoli now available
tom kane 2013-11-22
Just enjoyed a decent dvd of this great old actioner with its "Fort Apache" sounding cavalry charge and its "Gunga Din" buddy-film...
Jim Stockman 2013-04-23
I saw this film in early 1952 in a matinee showing. The colour was fantastic as was the cavalry charge towards the Arab stronghold. The two US naval ships...
Frederick Zirin 2013-01-27
John Payne stars as LT OBannon, the US Marine Corps officer who led a small contingent of marines allied with some Greek mercenaries, and some followers of...