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March or Die (1977)

1977 Movie poster for "March or Die" directed by Dick Richards


"March or Die"

Credits: Director, Producer, Writer

Starring: Gene Hackman, Catherine Deneuve, Terence Hill, Ian Holm, Max von Sydow 

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Release: 1977



Major William Foster (Gene Hackman) is a disillusioned American in the French Foreign Legion tasked with protecting archaeologists in Morocco. The film unfolds amid the harsh desert and political upheaval as Foster's legionnaires, including charismatic thief Marco Segrain (Terence Hill), face brutal conditions, internal strife, and the fierce Berber leader El Krim (Ian Holm). As tensions escalate, the discovery of a sacred sarcophagus leads to a climactic battle. The film highlights the personal struggles and moral dilemmas of its characters against the backdrop of French colonial history.


Honor, redemption, and survival in "March or Die"

The greatest fighting force of all time obeyed but one command: march or die.

Richards’ dramatic war epic explores themes of honor, redemption, and the devastating impacts of colonialism and battle. With a cast of thousands and sweeping Spanish sets, “March or Die” was a grueling production, going on to become a blockbuster in Europe.


About the Film

Shot in Spain, "March or Die" was inspired by Richard's discovery that a family friend had been part of the Legion. Terence Hill was wildly popular at the time, and the film showcased his performance to an American audience. This was a grueling production during which shooting was interrupted for several weeks after Hackman was involved in an accident with a horse.



 

Reviews

“Dick Richards, who also directed “Farewell, My Lovely,” has a good eye for eccentric faces and backgrounds: he comes up with a few memorable human tableaux [in “March or Die”], as when a bunch of legionnaires stand quietly in a sepia-toned glow, listening to a pianist play “Plaisir D’Amour.”
~ Janet Maslin, New York Times

 

Legends of Film: Dick Richards (Podcast). 28 August 2016.

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