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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Wild Geese

Don't ask me why it's taken so long for me to see this movie. It's up there with The Dogs of War for famous flicks about mercenaries. Finally having seen it, my feelings are mixed.

In short, I'd like to read the book because I suspect it is substantially better (usually a safe bet). There are things that bother me a lot about the movie from a tactical perspective. Even if the writer/screenwriter knows their stuff, actors and directors can still screw up the realism. These guys fight like they have no concept of cover or concealment. They don't even attempt to maintain reasonable intervals in the bush. They wear their berets (even the maroon ones, complete with shiny insignia) in the field--honestly, who does that? I could go on.

On the positive side, there were some realistic things. A plan only survives up until the first contact with the enemy, and we see this happen more than once in this flick. And our heroes are betrayed by the suits who sent them to do the dirty merc work. Boy, does that ring true--especially in Africa.

My original title for Hell and Gone was The Has-Beens. That label fits the Wild Geese even better than it fits my fictional mercs. I think there were only 2 bodies under 40 years old in the whole outfit.

Anyway, there are more wasteful activities you could engage in for 129 minutes. And I do want to read the book, now.


  1. I remember Wild Geese from a long time ago. That was a fun video you provided. Can't say I liked that sergeant much, as he did not run with his troops.

    If you are looking for old movies that are now clasics, one of my favorite war movies is "Rough Riders" (1997) with Tom Berenger, Gary Busy, and Sam Elliott, about the Spanish American War in Cuba in 1898. It's not Africa, but the Cuban campaign is one of those obscure battles lost in history but still interesting.

    A facinating point brought out was the German advisers fighing with the Spanish, and the machine guns they brought.

    The Spanish American War always interested me because my grandfather volunteered for it, joining a locally raised company. I was able to find his name on a company roster online.

  2. That is to cool, Walter!

    Yes--I remember The Rough Riders--my favorite living director, John Milius, put that one together. It wasn't flashy or expensive, but it was good stuff.

    I find that war fascinating, too, particularly the 1st Volunteer Cavalry. In fact, I have an alternative history series in mind that features that unit prominently.


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