Release dateNovember 18, 1955 (1955-11-18) Based onPunitive Action
by John Robb WriterDanny Arnold, George W. George, John Robb (novel), George F. Slavin Produced byHoward W. Koch, Aubrey Schenck CastRalph Meeker (Capt. David Malcolm), Marla English (Zara), J. Carrol Naish (Sgt. Diepel), John Smith (Pvt. Rex Tyle), John Carradine (Jala), Keith Larsen (El Zanal) Similar moviesTen Tall Men, Sergeant Slaughter, My Big Brother
TaglineWith the howling fury of a thousand sandstorms...they struck!
Desert Sands is a 1955 American adventure film directed by Lesley Selander and written by Danny Arnold, George W. George and George F. Slavin. The film stars Ralph Meeker, Marla English, J. Carrol Naish, John Carradine, Ron Randell, John Smith and Keith Larsen. The film was released on November 18, 1955, by United Artists. The film was based on the 1954 novel Punitive Action, one of a series of French Foreign Legion novels written by John Robb. Unlike many Foreign Legion films the film was set in the 1950s.
A strong force of mounted tribal Arabs launches a surprise attack on a French Foreign Legion fort in the North African desert, having previously intercepted and brutally massacred a relief column en route to the fort. After an Alamo-like battle, the more numerous Arabs capture the fort. Addressing the surviving Legionnaires as captives, the Arab leader makes passing reference to Pan-Islam as a motivation for the attacks.
Various sub-plots ensue, until eventually another Legion relief column approaches the fort, unaware that it has been captured. The Arabs create the appearance that all is well and ambush the relief column as it enters the fort. Meanwhile, the captive Legionnaire survivors from the original garrison escape and join the fighting. Another all-out, Alamo-style shootout follows, but this time the reinforced Legionnaires are victorious. The French flag is raised over the fort once again as the captured Arab survivors are led away.
The film was shot at the Imperial Dunes in California. The first choice for the lead was Paul Newman who was offered $20,000 however his agent wanted $35,000 that the producers would not pay.