The Lost Patrol (1934 film)

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The Lost Patrol
Lost patrol.jpeg
Original theatrical poster
Directed by John Ford
Produced by Merian C. Cooper
Cliff Reid
John Ford
Written by Garrett Fort
Philip MacDonald
Dudley Nichols
Starring Victor McLaglen
Boris Karloff
Music by Max Steiner
Cinematography Harold Wenstrom
Edited by Paul Weatherwax
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release dates February 16, 1934 (1934-02-16)
Running time 73 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $262,000[1]
Box office $583,000[1]

The Lost Patrol is a 1934 war film made by RKO. It was directed and produced by John Ford, with Merian C. Cooper as executive producer and Cliff Reid as associate producer. The screenplay was by Dudley Nichols, adapted by Garrett Fort from the novel Patrol by Philip MacDonald. The music score was by Max Steiner and the cinematography by Harold Wenstrom. The film is a remake of a 1929 British silent film.[2] The earlier film was directed and written by Walter Summers and is based on the same novel, which coincidentally starred Victor McLaglen's younger brother Cyril McLaglen in the lead role.

The film starred Victor McLaglen, Boris Karloff, Wallace Ford, Reginald Denny, J.M. Kerrigan, and Alan Hale. Max Steiner received a nomination for the Academy Award for Original Music Score. It was filmed in the Algodones Dunes of California.


During World War I, the commanding officer of a small British patrol in the Mesopotamian desert is shot and killed by an unseen Arab sniper, leaving the Sergeant (Victor McLaglen) at a loss, since he had not been told what their mission is. He decides to try to rejoin the brigade, though he does not know where they are or where he is.

Eventually, the eleven men reach an oasis. During the night, one of the sentries is killed, the other seriously wounded, and all their horses are stolen, leaving them stranded. One by one, the remaining men are picked off by the unseen enemy. In desperation, the Sergeant sends two men chosen by lot on foot for help, but they are caught and tortured to death, before their bodies are sent back. The pilot of a British biplane spots the survivors, but nonchalantly lands nearby and is killed before he can be warned. The men take the machine gun from the airplane and set the plane on fire in a desperate bid to signal British troops. Sanders (Boris Karloff), a religious fanatic, goes mad.

In the end, only the Sergeant is left. When the Arabs finally show themselves, he manages to kill them all with the machine gun. Moments later, another British patrol arrives, attracted by the smoke from the burning plane.



Richard Dix was meant to play the lead role but he went into another movie instead and Victor McLaglen replaced him.[3]


The film made a profit of $84,000.[1]


The script was the basis for the 1936 Soviet film The Thirteen, set by director Mikhail Romm in the Central Asia desert during the Basmachi rebellion. This Soviet film was then adapted in Sahara, featuring Humphrey Bogart. Last of the Comanches is a Western remake from 1953.

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  1. ^ a b c Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p56
  2. ^ Pallot, James; Monaco, James (1995). The movie guide. Berkeley Pub. Group. p. 499. ISBN 978-0-399-51914-7. 
  3. ^ March Favored as "Count of Monte Cristo;" News and Gossip of Studio and Theater: FILM SCRIPT NOW COMPLETE McLaglen Assigned to Star Role in "Patrol" Mystery Attaches to Plans of Helen Hayes Distant Locales Chosen for Warners' Air Epic Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 29 Aug 1933: A7.

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