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1950 | FULLSCREEN | COLOR | Quality: Excellent

John Payne

Maureen O'Hara

Philip Reed



John Payne is Lieutenant O'Bannion, a US Marine who is tasked with a mission to combat the 1805 activities of the infamous Barbary Pirates. To aid in this venture, he must recruit the help of exiled Hamet Karamanli (Phillip Reed), the rightful heir to throne of Tripoli who has been deposed by his brother. Also along for the adventure is a rowdy bunch of Greek mercenaries, led by the boisterous Capt. Demetrios (Howard Da Silva) and the beautiful but duplicitous Countess D'Arneau (Maureen O'Hara) who Payne quickly decides needs to be knocked off her high horse. This film is the "true" story of the US Marines hoisting the American flag for the first time over foreign soil (I say "true" because Hollywood has taken some liberties, as they like to do). The Marine's Hymn contains the line "to the shores of Tripoli" in reference to the events portrayed in this film.

Excellent dialog and cinematography greatly aid this nimble actioner along with its very able cast. Sometimes dragged down by obvious soundstages or limitations of 1950s filmmaking, the vigorous action scenes and good performances more than make up for it. Director Will Price, who was at the time married to Maureen O'Hara, got his first directing gig with this movie. However, he had been cheating on O'Hara, so the couple divorced soon afterward and Price only directed two forgettable movies thereafter. John Payne was an underused, underrated actor who always turned in solid leading performances and he does so again here. Howard DaSilva does great as the Greek mercenary captain, but sadly he went on Hollywood's blacklist shortly after this film for suspected Communist ties. In her memoirs O'Hara thought her casting in this film was ridiculous (which it is), but she was determined to keep working until better roles came along. A fun, strongly-scripted and well-made adventure film!

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