Desert Sands

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.[1]

Desert Sands
Desert Sands poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLesley Selander
Screenplay byDanny Arnold
George W. George
George F. Slavin
Based onPunitive Action
by John Robb
Produced byHoward W. Koch
Aubrey Schenck
StarringRalph Meeker
Marla English
J. Carrol Naish
John Carradine
Ron Randell
John Smith
Keith Larsen
CinematographyGordon Avil
Edited byJohn F. Schreyer
Music byPaul Dunlap
Bel-Air Productions
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • November 18, 1955 (1955-11-18)
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited States

The film was released on November 18, 1955, by United Artists.[2][3] 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.[4] 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.[3] 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.[5]



  1. ^ Vagg, Stephen (August 10, 2019). "Unsung Aussie Actors – Ron Randell: A Top Twenty". Filmink.
  2. ^ "Desert Sands". TV Guide. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Desert Sands (1955) - Overview -". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  4. ^ Crowther, Bosley (November 19, 1955). "Screen: Foreign Legion; Gory 'Desert Sands' Bows at Palace". The New York Times. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  5. ^ p. 174 Weaver, Tom A Sci-Fi Swarm and Horror Horde: Interviews with 62 Filmmakers McFarland, 25 Feb 2010

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