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Wind and the Lion, The (1975, Sean Connery, Candice Bergan)

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In turn of the century Tangiers, attractive American widow Mrs Eden Pedecaris (Candice Bergen) is kidnapped with her children William (Simon Harrison) and Jennifer (Polly Gottesman) by Berger Mulay El Raisuli (Sean Connery). His ransom demands include money, rifles and, most importantly, the sovereignty of his people, who have been suffering under the corrupt Sultan (Mark Zuber) and his government for too long.

His actions causes a political storm across the world. US President Theodore Roosevelt (Brian Keith) has the ideal opportunity to boost his imminent election ratings and gives the Sultan an ultimatum – ‘Mrs Pedecaris alive or Raisuli dead’. When the Moroccan leader dithers, Admiral Chadwick (Roy Jenson) sends in the Marines, lead by Captain Jerome (Steve Kanaly), to storm the Bashaw (governor) of Tangiers’ palace.

Meanwhile, Raisuli is discovering that his captive is far from the submissive matron that he was expecting. At first her indignation colours her view of Raisuli’s culture; she can only see cruelty and lack of Western sophistication. But the longer she and her children spend with the tribe, the more she grows to appreciate the spirit, humour and courage of her captors, and their leader in particular. Her relationship with the proverb-spouting Berber blossoms into one of mutual admiration, and it’s on her advice that Raisuli accepts an offer from the Moroccan authorities of cash and amnesty in exchange for his hostages. But it turns out to be a trap and, at the handover, Raisuli is captured by French and German troops. Feisty Pedecaris manages to persuade Captain Jerome to protect her new friends, and she’s there in the thick of the action as the Marines help the Riffian band to overcome the Germans and see them off to safety.

Later, in Washington, Roosevelt receives a note from Raisuli describing them as kindred spirits, fighting to gain the respect that their people deserve, but with this difference: ‘You are like the wind and I am like the lion… I roar in defiance but you do not hear.’

The film is based on a true diplomatic incident but the outcome wasn’t nearly as dramatic as Milius’s script (based loosely on Rosita Forbes’ book, Lord of the Riff ) would have it.

production details
USA | 119 minutes | 1975

Writer and Director: John Milius

cast
Sean Connery as Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli
Nadim Sawalha as Sherif of Wazan
John Huston as John Hay
Vladek Sheybal as The Bashaw
Geoffrey Lewis as Samuel Gummere
Candice Bergen as Eden Pedecaris
Brian Keith as Theodore Roosevelt
Simon Harrison as William Pedecaris
Polly Gottesman as Jennifer Pedecaris
Steve Kanaly as Capt. Jerome
Roy Jenson as Admiral Chadwick
Antoine Saint-John as Von Roerkel

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