Directed by Zoltan Korda who collaborated with John Howard Lawson (Blockade (1938)) on the screenplay they based on Philip MacDonald’s story (see below) this essential war drama stars Humphrey Bogart as Army Sergeant Joe Gunn who leads his tank (named Lulubelle) unit and a mixed bag of other Allied soldiers that join them through the titled desert. The men must defend an oasis they find with the water they desperately need against several onslaughts by the Germans who also need it and vastly outnumber them. J. Carrol Naish earned the first of his two Supporting Actor Oscar nominations as Giuseppe who’s actually a prisoner of the Allies (along with Kurt Krueger). The film’s B&W Cinematography and Sound Recording were also nominated. Bruce Bennett Lloyd Bridges Rex Ingram Richard Nugent and Dan Duryea (among others including Peter Lawford uncredited) also appear. Considered by some to be mere wartime propaganda one can’t ignore Bogart’s terrific performance nor the positive themes presented within it.
A remake of the Soviet film Trinadtsat (1937) aka The Thirteen (1937) it was later remade as a Western Last of the Comanches (1953) starring Broderick Crawford as well.