Ossus Library Index Young Indy Index

DAREDEVILS OF THE DESERT

Directed by Simon Wincer (1999, Lucasfilm)
Starring Sean Patrick Flannery and Catherine Zeta-Jones (guest cast)

Indy goes undercover in the Middle-East to help the British and Australian troops take the cities of Beersheba and Gaza.

 

 

B+

May 21st, 2000 on Video  
   

A fun episode, where Indy gets to show his wits and cunning, but which falls a little flat in execution.

Unusually, this episode begins without showing Indy at all.  It begins with a British attack on Gaza, which fails miserably.  It sets up the fact that the Australian horse regiment has been held in reserve, and doesn't see any action, throughout a lot of the conflict. 

Lawrence of Arabia is there, and he acknowledges the British General's crazy idea of sending the army on a two day trek across the desert to take the town of Beersheba.  There is not a drop of water from their position to the town, and there is a good chance that the Germans will destroy the wells during the attack, thus having the entire army die of thirst.  They need a spy in the city to make sure the wells aren't destroyed.  Lawrence recommends Indy for the job. 

One of the commanders is the same man who sent Indy out to destroy The Phantom Train of Doom.  He is an expert at planting false information.  He "accidentally" loses a packsack full of documents that indicate the British will attack Gaza again within the week, and the information does what it is supposed to do: the Germans send their reserve troops from Beersheba to Gaza, leaving the town virtually defenseless. 

Indy has a fond reunion with Lawrence, whom he met when he was very young, and with whom he has been corresponding all these years.  They talk under the stars (which look like the matte painting they are), and camp in some ancient ruins.  Indy also gets to know many in the Australian brigade.  When he finds out his mission, he is afraid for their lives.  He knows that many people won't make the two day ride across the desert, and that many horses won't, either.

So Indy goes off to Beersheba, disguised as a merchant, and in the company of a Beduin woman, who will spy on the Germans while belly dancing.  There is a funny scene where they are hassled by a Beduin tribesman, who takes possession of the woman and her camel.  Indy did a great job of being the merchant, in a very funny role.  He is forced to leave his companion, but she catches up to her by morning, having given them a sleeping potion, and stolen their clothing. 

Once they arrive in Beersheba, they link up with their contact, who tells them that the German General is skeptical about another attack on Gaza.  So he has rigged the wells with dynamite.  But the German Intelligence officer believes that the attack will be at Gaza. 

On the morning of the attack, they find out that the belly dancer is a double agent, and the contact is arrested and beaten.  Indy tells her that the attack is at Beersheba, but the contact reveals that they gave her false information.  So Indy appears to kill him, using a folding knife and fake blood.  The story seems to be complete. 

By the time the attack comes, the "dead" agent comes alive and gets Indy out of jail.  They then proceed to cut the wires to the dynamite at the wells.  But the German General figures out their plan, and orders the wires re-strung. 

Meanwhile, the British once again are forced to retreat.  The Australians are reluctantly given the task of entering the city.  In a magnificent cavalry stampede, they get within the perimeter of the guns, and keep moving.  They enter the city in a breathtaking scene where the horses leap over the machine-gun manned trenches. 

Several wells are destroyed, but Indy gets to the control room before any more can be blown up.  A wimpy fight ensues, even though it is not supposed to appear wimpy.  It is almost a cliché that they enter the room just as the man is about to pull the trigger, and they fight for a while, then the bad guy escapes just long enough to partially pull the trigger before being shot.  If Indy had shot him at the start, it would have been much simpler. 

So the British have finally taken a city in the middle east, and they expect to be in Jerusalem by Christmas.  I don't think Indy gets to see this, as he is off on other adventures.

The lead-in to the attack was well done, I thought.  Indy got to know the people involved.  Some he liked, others (like the British) he didn't.  But he followed orders, and was let in on the plan.  He gets to race horses against the Australians, and breaks up a fight between them and the British.  They play a football game instead of brawling, to resolve their differences.  Fun. 

The belly-dancing spy was there to play double-agent.  But she didn't really get to do much.  She slept with Indy, trying to get information on the real target.  I found the execution of the betrayal scene with the German General to be rather lackluster.  It should have kept us guessing, but somehow it didn't. 

However, I did enjoy the scene where she shoots the pigeon and thus exposes herself as a double agent. 

So the episode was fun, but not great.  It had elements that were very interesting, but the execution was sub-par.

 

  Guest Cast: Dougie Henshall as T.E. Lawrence
Julian Firth as Richard Meinertzhagen
Colin Baker as Harry George Chauvel
Tony Bonner as M.W.J Bourchier
Robert Swann as William Grant
 
   

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