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Film: The Wind and the Lion

A 1975 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Action Adventure film directed by John Milius, The Wind and the Lion tells a fictionalized version of the 1904 "Pedicaris incident."

When an American woman, Eden Pedicaris (Candice Bergen), and her two children are kidnapped in Morocco by a Berber chieftain, Mulai Ahmed el Raisuli (Sean Connery), President Theodore Roosevelt (Brian Keith) sends warships and Marines, leading to an international confrontation. The film focuses on the personal conflict between Roosevelt and Raisuli, and on the romance between Raisuli and Mrs. Pedicaris.

The Wind and the Lion is a good old-fashioned high adventure. While it does not allow the beauty of the thing to be spoiled with obsessive accuracy, it features loving attention to period details, impressive set-piece action sequences, memorable acting and dialogue, and a sweeping musical score by Jerry Goldsmith.

The only real problem with the movie is the basic improbability of any sane woman allowing herself to be 'rescued' from Sean Connery. Or any sane man allowing Candice Bergen to be 'rescued' from him!

John Milius later also directed and wrote The Rough Riders, a spiritual prequel.
This Film features examples of:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: Many.
    • "I am bluffing too."
    • Mrs. Pedicaris playing chess with Raisuli.
  • Action Mom: Mrs. Pedicaris is always one, although she doesn't actively wield a weapon until half-way through the movie.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The Bashaw
  • Asian Speekee Engrish/You No Take Candle: Amusingly and pointedly averted with the Japanese ambassador during Roosevelt's birthday dinner. The Secretary of State had been condescending to the ambassador since the dinner began (asking such insipid questions as "Likee forkee", in regard to the silverware they were using). And then the ambassador stands to give Roosevely a rather eloquent congratulatory speech in perfect, unaccented English, after which he sits down, smiles at the Secretary of State, and asks the man, "You likee speechee?"
  • Badass: several characters
  • Badass Boast
  • Big Damn Heroes: Raisuli rescuing the Pedicaris family from the desert bandits
  • Blood Knight
    • In the fight with the bandits, and the final duel with von Roerkel, Raisuli is clearly enjoying himself.
    • Captain Jerome.
    • Theodore Roosevelt would love to get out of DC, go to Morocco, and be one himself.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Lots of it
  • Catch Phrase
    • "Pedicaris alive—or Raisuli dead!" (an example of Truth in Television)
    • "You are a great deal of trouble."
    • "No respect for human life!"
  • The Cavalry
  • Dare to Be Badass: Mrs. Pedicaris and her son William.
  • Deadpan Snarker: at various times, Theodore Roosevelt, his Secretary of State John Hay, and Mrs. Pedicaris, but Raisuli has the best snark of all:
    Eden Pedicaris: Why would anyone want to cut out a man's tongue?
    Raisuli: Perhaps the previous owner had nothing pleasant to say.
  • Eagleland: President Roosevelt's musings on the character of the American grizzly bear. Also plays out with the reckless adventurism of the Marine captain.
  • Evil Uncle: Played with. Both Raisuli and the vizier are the Sultan's uncles.
  • Final Battle: The three-sided confrontation between the Bashaw's retainers and the Germans holding Raisuli, the Berber cavalry attacking the town from the outside, and Mrs. Pedicaris and the Marines in the middle
  • Foreshadowing: There are numerous foreshadowings of World War One.
    • At one point, Raisuli scoffs at Industrial Age warfare: "The Europeans have guns which fire many times promiscuously and rend the earth, but there is no honor in this; nothing is decided by this."
    • Captain Jerome: "Gentlemen, if we fail and are killed, I certainly hope the world DOES go to war!"
  • Funny Background Event: While Roosevelt is ruminating on the grizzly bear, a horse is rolling in the background. The director's commentary remarks that that was a coincidence, and that most people would have reshot the take.
  • Gentleman Adventurer: Theodore Roosevelt; Also, Sir Joshua Kenyon-Smith, the Briton who runs out of bullets ("Oh, damn.") in the opening fight sequence
  • Going Native: The kids have no problems with the idea, although their mother certainly does.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The beheading sequence
  • Gunpoint Banter: Mrs. Pedicaris and Captain Jerome
  • Hey, It's That Guy!:
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Most historical accounts show Raisuli as a vicious mixture of feudal bandit and political power player. For instance: Walter Harris recounts that when Raisuli's brother-in-law planned to take a second wife, Raisuli stormed the wedding party and hacked the bride and her mother to death. Thus, depicting him as a virtuous freedom fighter is a bit of a stretch.
  • Hypocritical Humor: "This Roosevelt—does he have no respect for human life?!"
  • Hollywood History: The real-life Pedicaris was a man, and very little of the plot is based on actual events.
    • "Why spoil the beauty of the thing with accuracy?"
    • This movie is actually a very odd example. It's obvious that a lot of research went into the film - much of the dialogue, incidents and historical details come verbatim from various books and articles about Raisuli, Roosevelt or the period generally. Despite that, the movie's plot is complete invention.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Raisuli picking off the desert bandits from several hundred yards away using only the iron sights on his Mauser rifle
  • Indy Ploy: The attempt to free the Raisuli
  • Ineffectual Death Threats: Raisuli has no intention of harming the Pedicarises
  • Insult Backfire: when the Bashaw declares to Captain Jerome (after the Marines have stormed his palace and killed off his household guard) that "you are a dangerous man, and your President Roosevelt is mad", Jerome smiles, salutes with his sword and hamtastically replies "Yes, sir!"
  • Large Ham: Theodore Roosevelt; Also the Raisuli (that's "Mulai Ahmed Mohammed el Raisuli the Magnificent" to you, bub!)
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Raisuli and von Roerkel
  • Lonely at the Top: How Roosevelt feels sometimes, ruminating about the American spirit and the loneliness of "great men".
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Roosevelt hiding the fact that he'd gone blind in one eye as a result of boxing injuries.
  • Mama Bear: Mrs. Pedicaris
  • Mexican Standoff
  • Music of Note: By Jerry Goldsmith.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: How Raisuli treats the Pedicarises and his other captives . . . well, some of them, anyway.
    John Hay: He kidnapped a British consul once, but they became friends and he sent him back - he spat on the blood money.
    Theodore Roosevelt: Spat on it?
    John Hay: Yes. There've been others, though — Spanish and French emissaries.
    Theodore Roosevelt: Did he send them back too?
    John Hay: Parts of them.
  • No One Gets Left Behind
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent
  • The Noun and the Noun
  • Overly Long Name: Mulai Ahmed Mohammed el Raisuli
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Raisuli, and by extension all the Berbers.
  • Rated M for Manly
  • Reclining Reigner: The Bashaw when the Marines bust into the palace.
  • Royal Brat: The Sultan of Morocco
  • Scimitars Are Just Better: "Men prefer to fight with swords so they can see each other's eyes."
  • Shown Their Work: While the plot bears only a tangential relationship to history, Brian Keith's portrayal is very faithful to Theodore Roosevelt's personality.
    • Hard-core military history buffs will also be impressed by the gorgeous Matte Shot of the armored cruiser USS Brooklyn and the Marines' Krag-Jorgensen rifles and Colt "potato digger" machine guns.
    • Not to mention Captain Jerome carrying of the sword at the double (at port, flat to his body, left hand guiding the blade). Usually known only to Marine officers and noncommissioned officers, the latter only after they've been through NCO School.
    • Judging from Rosita Forbes' biography of Raisuli, his penchant for archaic aphorisms is very accurate.
    • Milius's depiction of Abdelaziz's court, including bicycle polo and the servant-drawn royal carriage, closely resemble passages from Walter Harris's book Morocco That Was (1921). Harris was an English diplomat who was himself kidnapped by Raisuli in 1903.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Mrs Pedicaris may seem like a Victorian Proper Lady...but she's also a Lady of War with two children to protect.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Raisuli and Mrs. Pedicaris, complete with pawn-point banter
  • Spanish Doubling: Though the story is set in Morocco and the US, nearly everything was shot on location in Spain.
  • Title Drop: in Raisuli's letter to Roosevelt
  • Train-Station Goodbye: ...albeit without a train: "I'll see you again, Missus Pedicaris . . . when we are both like golden clouds on the wind."
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: between Raisuli and Mrs. Pedicaris
  • Verbal Tic: Raisuli sprinkles his speech with old sayings and metaphorical turns of phrase; for instance, "The lion takes long strides, but the path is worn smooth by pygmy armies." Over the course of the story, Mrs. Pedicaris gradually matches Raisuli metaphor for metaphor, to the point where an exasperated Raisuli complains, "Missus Pedicaris, you speak like a Berber!"
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story
  • Warrior Poet: Raisuli's Establishing Character Moment is him quietly reading by a fountain...while his men pillage the house behind him.
  • Worthy Opponent: Roosevelt and Raisuli come to think of each other this way.
    • Also, Roosevelt considers the grizzly bear to be one, which is why he insists to the taxidermist that it be displayed "in a fighting stance" and not made to "look like a hairy cow".
    • When Alice asks her father to have the Raisuli brought before her in chains, Roosevelt chides her and notes "If you pick the road to greatness, and you'll have that choice someday, you'll come to realize that the road traveled by great men is dark and lonely, and lit only occasionally at intervals by other great men, and sometimes... they're your enemies... they're still the only true luxury you have."

WHAM! BAM! THANK YOU, SPACEMAN!Films of the 1970sThe Yakuza

alternative title(s): The Wind And The Lion
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