Sahara (1943) Humphrey Bogart is Sergeant Joe Gunn WW2 Tank Commander

Humphrey Bogart stars in this World War Two drama as a tank commander in charge of a collection of allied soldiers. Here’s my review of the film, Sahara (1943)


What’s going down?

Sometime during 1942 during WW2 the Allied forces were fighting General Rommel in the North African Campaign around Tobruk in Libya. Emerging from the aftermath of a fierce battle which had resulted in many Allied casualties and scores of destroyed tanks and vehicles. A tough US Sergeant Joe Gunn and his crew head off in their M3 tank, nicknamed Lulu Belle, after finding themselves the lone survivors. They set off in the beat up but trusty tank trying to rejoin the rest of their unit. Tracking across the Libyan desert they come across a group of soldiers hiding out in a bombed-out field hospital. After refueling and finding what supplies they can they all set off. The groups numbers are once again about to rise as they come across a tough Sudanese Sergeant Major dragging an Italian prisoner by his side. With the tank filling up like a tin of sardines they aren’t ready to receive one more guest! A very unwanted one. A Luftwaffe pilot Captain. Water supplies and fuel are dangerously low as the plight is about to take another blow. Finding themselves ready for an ambush with a pursuing German squadron. With one tank and a motley crew of thirsty soldiers they will try and make a last stand against all the odds.

The main players

Humphrey Bogart as Sergeant Joe Gunn
Dan Duryea as Jimmy Doyle
Bruce Bennett as “Waco” Hoyt
Rex Ingram as Sergeant Major Tambul, (Sudan Defence Force)
J. Carrol Naish as Giuseppe
Richard Nugent as Captain Jason Halliday, (Royal Army Medical Corps)
Lloyd Bridges as Fred Clarkson
Patrick O’Moore as Osmond “Ozzie” Bates
Guy Kingsford as Peter Stegman, (South African Army)
Carl Harbord as Marty Williams
Louis T. Mercier as Corporal Jean “Frenchie” Leroux, (Free French Forces)
Kurt Kreuger as Captain von Schletow
John Wengraf as Major von Falken

Tagline – A mighty story of adventure, courage and glory in the desert!…tender human emotion…triumphant action…matchless thrills…a memorable entertainment experience!

Sure I’ve seen them in something?

Too many cast members to do them all but here’s a few. First up the Humphrey Bogart’s I’ve reviewed on my site. The Desperate Hours (1955), The Harder They Fall (1956), Dark Passage (1947) and The Petrified Forest (1936)

Bruce Bennett has starred alongside Bogie on a few times. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) Dark Passage (1947) and Nora Prentiss (1947) with Ann Sheridan and Mystery Street (1950) with Ricardo Montalban to name a few.

A very young Lloyd Bridges turns up for a wander in the desert. Known for many films but I’m going for Steve McCroskey from the two Airplane classics and also starring alongside Charlie Sheen in the two Hot Shots comedies.

Dan Duryea pops up in lots of films though I’ve only seen three I believe. The other two have been Scarlet Street (1945) and Ministry Of Fear (1944) both of which I reviewed if you fancy a look.

I don’t really know Rex Ingram but I’m sure I’ve seen him on telly over the years. It looks like he played some interesting characters. Like playing God in The Green Pastures (1936) to Lucifer in Cabin in the Sky (1943) which incidentally was directed by Vincente Minnelli the husband of Judy Garland and the father of Liza Minnelli. Also I liking the sound of a Film Noir called Moonrise (1948). Please recommend me more if you know of his work.

Notes on production?

Sahara was directed by the Hungarian Zoltan Korda. He had made the 1942 version of The Jungle Book that starred Sabu as the young Mowgli. Apart from that film I don’t know any more. Recommend away.

The Sahara idea has an unbelievable journey from it first incarnation as a novel by a British fiction writer called Philip MacDonald. He had wrote a story called Patrol in 1927 which centered around British soldiers lost in the desert surrounded by an enemy. With soldiers getting picked off one at a time by a hidden sniper. It was turned into a British silent film called Lost Patrol (1929). Then remade by American director John Ford in The Lost Patrol (1934) which had Boris Karloff in the cast.

But it doesn’t end there. Sahara is supposedly more based on the Soviet film adapted from the book called The Thirteen (1936). Then in 1953 it was re-imagined as a western in Last Of The Comanches and then getting a direct remake of the Humphrey Bogart version in the TV movie of the same name starring Jim Belushi as the tank commander, Sgt Gunn. To be honest I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s more?

Hits like a sledge hammer

Sahara features lots of scenes of bravery that hit the heartstrings but the one scene that really wacks you in the emotional ticker is when the captured Italian begs for his life. With room aboard the tank, crushed together, ten men full, as it drives across the blazing hot sands. Sergeant Joe Gunn makes the decision to leave the Italian behind. At that time the Italian’s were fighting alongside the Nazi’s. As Giuseppe desperately shows his treasured picture of his wife and baby it takes the medical officer to try and reason with the sergeant. The look on the Italian’s face is enough to break you.

Capt. Jason Halliday – “Sgt. I’d wish you’d change your mind. This man is a prisoner of war and, as such, he is entitled to certain rights. We’ve got to take him with us. We can’t leave him here to die. If we ask the men I’m sure they’d agree.
Sgt. Joe Gunn –Mm-hum. They’d agree now. What about when they’re starving to death and dyin’ of thirst? It’s why you put me in command. To look ahead.
Capt. Jason Halliday –But, this is a matter of a man’s life.
Sgt. Joe Gunn –You’re wrong Doctor. It’s the matter of the lives of ten men. We’ve got a long ways to go and we need every crumb of food and every drop of water. I’m taking the Sudanese along because he’s a soldier and he’s entitled a share with the rest of us. I’m NOT taking on a load of spaghetti. He’s walked this far and he can walk back. That’s the end of it.


I do enjoy a good war movie. Doesn’t have to be gun-ho, just realistic is all I ask for. It always surprises me when you watch a WW2 film made so close to the date of the actual events. Especially when the war was still raging across Europe and the Pacific. It might be based on a fictional story but the screenplay, settings and acting bring such a realism. It’s refreshing to see the addition of Rex Ingram as the North African soldier from the Sudan Defence Force included. He’s shown as an equally alongside the all the other Allied nation’s. What’s impressive is Sahara does a great job of including many nations from Australia, South Africa and a Free French troop all fighting side by side the British and American troops. It’s what impressed me about 633 Squadron (1964). Showing that it wasn’t just the British and American’s that won the war but we had a big help from our friends.

In the blistering heat, the thirst and constant danger from the pursuing enemy always on their minds. Soon they will have to make a stand. Sahara does well giving everyone a good amount of screen time and it features a fantastic script. Spectacular explosions, fantastic scenery with California and Arizona deserts stepping in for the Libyan Desert. Even with sand makeup experts adding wind markings in the landscape. If you like a good war yarn it’s a superb drama.

Rating score

Wolfman’s rating 8.5/10       IMDB 7.5/10

Feel free to recommend me related movies and any other trivia if you wish. Keep having fun at the movies…. Mikey Wolf

16 thoughts on “Sahara (1943) Humphrey Bogart is Sergeant Joe Gunn WW2 Tank Commander

  1. I haven’t seen this one. I’m not generally a big fan of war movies, but there are some that I love–most of them about WWII. It is interesting/compelling that Sahara was filmed during the war. The scene you describe about the water starved Giuseppe getting left in the desert is a window to the sentiment, “war is hell.” A soldier’s humanity is battling with his will to survive and his determination to guard the lives of his fellow soldiers. That’s just as brutal as bodies being blown to bits.
    Solid review, Mikey.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d say WW2 is my favourite war! That sounds bad, you know what I mean. I like the history of it. Actually had a real baddy. It felt just, unlike so many others. A real good vs evil.
      So true “War is hell”. I was impressed with this one. It has a few moments of classic propaganda but it had too really set made during the war. However they are not pushed in your face.
      Yeah those pondering questions that lead to brutal decisions that could lead to the life or death of your platoon. What a responsibility! Bogie is impressive as usual and that scene mentioned above doesn’t end as badly as you might think. It’s still a tough little scene mind. Hey thanks Pam 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fine film and deserves more love in the world of Bogart. His non crime films outside of Queen and Casablanca are sometimes overlooked. J. Carrol Naish deserves special mention. A versatile character player and without looking i think he scored an Oscar nomination here. Unless u mentioned it and I missed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You spot on Sir Mike. Nominated indeed he was. I didn’t know. He certainly gives a fantastic heartfelt performance. I don’t really know him from anything else I don’t believe. Though I would wager a guess that you saw him in his last film with Lon Chaney Jr? Does get really, really bad reviews though, Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. One of a bunch of Bogies I’ve missed but have always wanted to see, and the way you describe the story makes me REALLY want to see it…I never really knew much about it until now, and it sounds great. Some neat stuff going on…I’m looking forward to tracking it down (which I’m sure I can do cheaply once I get back to Zia’s).

    Oh wait, there’s a 1983 version starring Brooke Shields? I think I’ll get that one instead…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh they had to go add a lady to the new one! What ever next! Haha the 1943 one is a pure sausage fest. So adding in Miss Shields to add some glamour driving a tank through the desert all hot and sweaty will make those dastardly Nazi scum eyeballs pop out of their heads. Oh wait that Sahara isn’t a tank movie remake? Darn it Todd I was gonna race off to see that.

      Hope you keeping well buddy? Can you imagine the amount of money Zia’s could of made during lock down! People would be coming out with bags filled with dvd’s. Gonna be sweet when you can get back to the secondhand stores.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel bad for the Italian guy, even though he was fighting on the fascist side, and especially being called a load of spaghetti–particularly in light of what’s going on today in the US. If you’re gonna subject someone to probable death, can’t you do it without name-calling? Apparently not!

    What’s really amazing, though, in the arena of movies (at least to me), is when youngsters have no idea who Humphrey Bogart is. Okay, I can understand maybe not knowing Lloyd Bridges or Katherine Hepburn, to name a woman…but Bogie? But it seems like old movies were playing a lot more on just regular TV channels when I was growing up….whereas today they’re kind of isolated on AMC or places like that. Oh, well. Time marches on! It’s Tom Cruise’s world now!

    I’m sure my father and my brother saw this movie. I’m like Pam–not too big a fan of war movies. The opening of Saving Private Ryan was amazing and so was all the fighting action in Edge of Tomorrow. But I much prefer Airplane and Lloyd Bridges slowly building up confessing that he “picked the wrong time to quit” first smoking, then drinking, then eventually amphetamines…LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry for the late reply!
      Oooo yes you feel so bad for him, the look on his face and then he shows his picture of his cute and chubby “bambino”………… Here’s a little secret, don’t tell anyone. Bogart, after driving away all stony faced suddenly feels his heart crumble. Putting his foot on the brakes and adding another to the faithful ole Lulu Belle.

      It’s so true that the average youngster would have no idea who Humphrey Bogart is. I guess like you say that the old movies were played over and over on “normal” tv back in the day. Now there’s a million channels with nothing on. But the average kid isn’t going to sit and watch Turner Classic Movies and the such. Which is a shame.
      My daughter knows him though she hasn’t seen any of his films yet. I keep trying to watch The Petrified Forest with her. She know’s him because I showed her pictures of his and Lauren Bacall’s beloved boxer dogs. As we had one ourselves. 🙂

      Oh you picked the best, HAHA I use Lloyd Bridges “picked the wrong time to quit” lines when ever I possibly can. 90 percent of the time it goes over the persons head as they look at me like I’m crazy. True that might be the case but!!!!!!..

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hahaha. Oh, Bogie! You softie!
    I hope it didn’t turn out the same way as Saving Private Ryan when they spared the German guy’s life……. eeeeeek!
    Here’s to Bogie AND airplane jokes: may we keep them both alive as long as we’re alive….
    ’cause after that, I don’t know. More lost genius, probably.

    Liked by 1 person

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