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Purchase Destination Gobi (1953) Movie Online and Download - Robert Wise 🎥
Drama, Adventure, War
IMDB rating:
Robert Wise
Ross Bagdasarian as Paul Sabatello
Russell Collins as Lt. Cmdr. Hobart Wyatt
Leonard Strong as Wali-Akhun
Martin Milner as Elwood Halsey
Murvyn Vye as Kengtu
Max Showalter as Walter Landers (as Casey Adams)
Don Taylor as Jenkins
Darryl Hickman as Wilbur 'Coney' Cohen
Richard Widmark as CPO Samuel T. McHale
Storyline: A group of US Navy weathermen taking measurements in the Gobi desert in World War II are forced to seek the help of Mongol nomads to regain their ship while under attack from the Japanese air force. The Mongols are rewarded by an airlift of the finest saddles.
Type Resolution File Size Codec Bitrate Format
HQ DVD-rip 952x720 px 2693 Mb h264 4202 Kbps mkv Purchase
Another US how-we-won-the-war movie with US-stereotypes of other cultures
Hollywood was awash with triumphalist movies about the US military's comrades-in-arms in the first 10 years after the war in a self-congratulating furore to re-write history according to US attitudes and prejudices. You know the routine: sassy one-liners, everyone's nickname is "Mac" or "Buddy", everyone looks like a hero, serious leg-wounds that hospitalize us mortals are laughed off as inconvenient flesh-wounds that only need a quick bandage. Not for the Japs or Jerries, of course. The nasty-horrible baddies pepper the battlefield with bullets and grenades and one US hero dies; the US lieutenant fires his pistol once and a squadron of Nazi tanks explode and a thousand enemy soldiers writhe on the floor in screaming death-throes. Ha, ha, ha... ho, ho, ho... this is how we won the war, boys! It's so clichéd it could pass for pantomime.

Destination Gobi is no exception. Watching this movie demonstrates how much our attitudes have changed.

This is another one of those movies, but with the added bonus of being set in the Gobi Desert... if the Gobi Desert looks anything like California. The Mongols are suspicious savages - little more than replicas of the caricatured American Indians, but wearing supposed Mongolian clothes instead. The Mongols ride big, US Cavalry style horses and speak in monosyllabic words. They steal stuff from the US navy men. They want to kill one of them for using a camera, naturally. Makes sense, of course... since the Mongolians are ignorant savages who don't respect the brave US military servicemen and they all think a little camera's going to kill them.

It never occurred to the film-makers to actually visit Mongolia and find out that the Mongolians ride small but sturdy ponies, live on a diet of goats and sheep milk and meat, learn how to wrestle for a centuries-old tradition of annual competitions, thunder across the desert and steppes on their ponies for countless miles in great tribal gatherings, have a typical Far Eastern respect for foreigners and strangers and their possessions and are a modest, reserved breed of people who live a tough existence in one of the most windswept places on earth. If the film-makers had, the Mongolians in this movie wouldn't have ended up looking like Klingons in fur caftans.

Of course, the brave, all-knowing US servicemen in this movie drill the Mongolians in cavalry techniques. Only stands to reason, naturally. If it weren't for the US Cavalry in the Middle Ages, Genghis Khan wouldn't have sacked China, traversed the endless Russian Steppes, crushed a mighty East Indian kingdom guarded by walled fortress cities, crossed the unexplored Arabian Desert, sieged Baghdad while it was being invaded by Crusaders, and thundered into a startled Europe.

Having been raised on a diet of such laughable caricatures and cultural superiority (as we all were in the 1960s, 70s and 80s), is it any wonder that the US faces current levels of fragile international relations?
Talk about ridiculous but true!
The plot of this movie seemed to make little sense, so I did a bit of research on the web and it appears to actually be based on real events from WWII--some of the strangest events you could imagine. Richard Widmark stars as a leader of a group of US Navy personnel stationed in Mongolia--YES, Mongolia! It seems they are a very isolated weather station but why the Navy was sent there is beyond me! In case they are attacked by the Japanese, they enlist the help of local herdsmen by providing them with nice new saddles--YES, saddles. As I said, it's all very hard to imagine but based on real events.

Unfortunately for our small but intrepid group, their base IS attacked by the Japanese Air Force and their equipment ruined. As they are in the middle of no where and the American commanders must assume they are dead, they seem to have no choice to to make their way east--though the coast is over 800 miles from their base.

While this is certainly not a great film, it's a great one for someone who loves WWII history--as it certainly doesn't get any more unusual than this. Plus, the film is enjoyable, well-acted and likable. Truly an odd movie but reasonably well made with its mostly American-Indian supporting cast.
Great humane tongue in cheek drama
Can't believe this one is from 1953, it feels like it was done last year.

The vistas and the panoramas of the desert are stunning and the cultural representation of Chinese and Mongols is authentic without any Hollywood tricks, which is amazing not only for 1953 but for 2002 as well.
Lacked Suspense
Although he has no interest in any assignment other than one at sea, a sailor by the name of "CPO Samuel T. McHale" (Richard Widmark) is sent into the middle of the Gobi Desert during World War 2 to assist a meteorologist set up a weather station. Not only does he have to deal with the inhospitable weather but his team also has to be alert for Japanese patrols and Mongol bandits as well. Although it had the advantage of being film in color during a period when most movies were produced in black and white, this particular movie didn't have the excitement and grandeur that I honestly expected to see in a picture of this type. Perhaps it was the extremely basic dialogue or the general lack of suspense but something seemed to be missing. Now that's not to say that this was necessarily a bad movie because it wasn't. However, I personally think it could have been better and as a result I have rated it accordingly.
DESTINATION GOBI (Robert Wise, 1953) **1/2
While supposedly presenting “one of the strangest stories of WWII” (denoted in historical records merely by the cryptic phrase “Saddles For Gobi” – explained later), this film hardly constitutes the most engrossing or exciting war adventure to be depicted on the screen…and, besides, emerges as an even greater disappointment coming from a director of Wise’s stature! That said, the unusual desert location and attractive color cinematography makes it a pleasant – if forgettable – actioner. Apart from this, the fact that it’s one of Wise’s (and star Richard Widmark’s) rarest efforts, has made me leap at the chance of acquiring a copy of it (albeit an imperfect one, given the alarmingly frequent jerkiness of the image) – gleaned from a broadcast on French Satellite TV! – particularly in view of Widmark’s recent passing.

The interesting thing here is that, what starts off as a routine mission involving U.S. Navy personnel operating in a desert weather station, develops into a story of survival – as, following an aerial attack by the Japanese, the remaining members of the outfit trek towards the sea in an attempt to reach the Navy base on duty at Okinawa. Ironically, both the studio (Fox) and the star involved had already made a film about that campaign – Lewis Milestone’s HALLS OF MONTEZUMA (1950), which I’d watched on Italian TV but may check out again now (on DVD-R) as part of my ongoing Widmark tribute.

Amidst the typical camaraderie, the men suffer the elements, manage an unexpected alliance with a horde of Mongols (achieved by procuring the latter with saddles for their horses requisitioned from the U.S.!), are conned by a shady camel merchant, apparently betrayed to the Japanese forces by the Mongols themselves (though it transpires that the latter’s internment camp is actually close to the seashore) and then fight off the enemy on a ramshackle river boat. In the end, it’s certainly watchable and efficiently enough handled – but, as I said, the material per se isn’t inspiring enough to bring out the best from the talents involved…
WW2 film set in the Gobi Desert

Richard Widmark scored in a whole series of excellent film noir and westerns during the first 15 or so years of his career. His war films though are a mixed bag with most being average at best. (1950's Halls of Montezuma being the best of the bunch)

It is late 1944 and the war in the Pacific is drawing nearer to Japan. The US Navy sets up several weather stations in the Gobi Desert. These are to supply weather information so the Navy can plan their attacks etc.

A small group of ratings with one officer, Russell Collins, and a Chief Petty Officer, Widmark, set up one of these stations. Months go by and the men send in daily radio reports and wait for the weekly supply air-drop. The place is blazing hot by day and freezing cold by night. The men are bored silly.

A group of Mongol nomads arrive and set up camp. The nomads are led by Murvyn Vye. Relations between the Navy men and the Mongols are good for the most part. The Navy decides to form the Mongol horsemen into a protection detail. They fly in 60 old US Cavalry saddles for the Mongols.

Everyone seems happy with the deal till several Japanese aircraft pay a less than friendly visit. Several Mongols are killed along with the Navy officer, Collins. The station radio gear is shot to pieces and the Navy men are left alone when the Mongols all bug out.

Now in charge, Widmark decides to lead the men to the sea 800 miles away. The rest of the film follows their run-ins with various Mongol groups including Vye's bunch again. They end up at the coast and are gobbled up by the local Japanese garrison. Vye and his Mongols come to the rescue and break the Navy men out.

The whole group, Navy and Mongols alike, swipe a Chinese junk and set sail for Okinawa. There are a couple more close calls with death as they overcome a Japanese patrol craft and are nearly sunk by U.S. Navy aircraft.

The rest of the cast includes, Earl Holliman, Martin Milner, Darryl Hickman, Max Showalter and Don Taylor. Richard Loo also puts in one of his patented bits as a Japanese officer.

The story is apparently based on a real event. How much of the film story is real, or not, I'm not sure. Instead of playing the story straight, they keep throwing in comic bits which really do not work. Having said that, five time Oscar nominated, and four time winner, director Robert Wise, does a nice job moving the film along. Four time Oscar nominated, two time winner, cinematographer, Charles G Clarke supplies some nice camera-work.

At 90 minutes it moves along fast enough to be entertaining.
Better than average war film which gets extra credit for its unique setting in the Gobi Desert.
This film has the feel of a documentary as sailor Richard Widmark frets at his role at a remote weather station in the Gobi Desert and yearns to get a ship under him again. Ultimately, he returns to the sea in an unexpected fashion.

The relationship between the sailors and the nomadic Mongols is a crucial part of the film. The nomads are credibly portrayed as human beings who are neither all good or all bad. The film gets high marks for its portrayal of the Mongol culture. It would have been so easy for the film to show people who looked like the Native American Indians Hollywood films are so comfortable with. The Mongol yurts have a realistic look and the film truly succeeds here in portraying a different and likeable culture.

There is little action in this film, but that's really not a problem. The unusual and probably unique story line more than makes up for it. The ending is a little hard to believe, but remember that anything is possible in films. Enjoy it.
Entertaining movie
I saw Destination Gobi in 1953. I looked for a copy of the movie for years until I was able to get it on DVD. I have watched this movie several times since, and enjoy each viewing.

I differ from some of the more critical reviews. Too often the reviews come off as the "want-to- be movie critics", who seem to nitpick this and that. They fail to recognize that some movies are meant for just entertainment. Destination Gobi falls into this category. It wasn't meant to become Movie of the Year, nor to compete with Gone With the Wind.

I have most of the war movies made in my DVD library. World War II created many Hollywood opportunities in creating movies, along with governmental approval to boost patriotism. And, Hollywood produced many, some great, others poor. Movie goers liked some, disliked others. It's just a matter of one's own personal view of what they're looking for in a film. If it's for their desire to have an opportunity to become a pseudo-movie critic, then so be it. I watch movies for entertainment
"One is grateful for the bitter as well as the sweet"
There were a lot of WW2 pictures made in the late 40s and early 50s, made as uncomplicated gung-ho nostalgia, doubling as propaganda for the ongoing war in Korea. By and large they were cheap and cheerful affairs; poorly scripted and poorly acted. Destination Gobi is just such a picture, its main exception being that it is somewhat spruced up by the direction of the great Robert Wise.

Being relatively low-budget Destination Gobi is rather short on action, instead relying upon suspense sequences and musings on military life for its entertainment value. Sadly the screenplay isn't quite up to the task. There is a sprinkling of quasi-philosophical dialogue, most of which is feeble and unconvincing (the only line I liked was the one about Inner Mongolia being "hotter, dryer and inner"). The characters are the usual B-movie one-dimensionals, and many scenes are so lacking in credibility the tension can't work because there is no real sense of danger.

This is where Robert Wise comes in. It's often interesting, albeit dissatisfying, to see a really top-notch director slumming it in a B-unit – to see what they can make out of the weakest of elements. This is especially true of Wise, who had no ego and always aimed to make the best out of whatever the studios threw at him. This is his first colour picture and, as far as I know his earliest to really make use of wide-open spaces. Most of Wise's pictures up until now had been gritty thrillers, and even his 1948 horse opera Blood on the Moon is – literally – a dark Western. It's been remarked by others that the landscape in Destination Gobi is filmed to show off its beauty, but also watch Wise's timing. It would be normal convention to cut to a landscape shot after the opening scene at SACO HQ, but in fact Wise takes care not to properly show us the desert and emphasises the smallness and darkness of the tent. Only after the Mongols have been introduced do we get these breathtaking outdoor shots. The contrast is striking and it makes us associate the Mongols with the beauty of the location, even if only subconsciously.

I am sure Wise knew he had been given a bum script, and he takes advantage of the quiet moments. Wise's direction was generally at its best when there was no dialogue anyway (check out Lawrence Tierney in Born to Kill) and he particularly seemed to like drawing out these moments and giving the actors space to emote. Consequently there is tenderness uncharacteristic of such a picture when the soldiers mourn a fallen comrade, opening the scene with a respectful long shot of the gravesite. Again the natural beauty of the landscape is used, this time as a bittersweet counterpoint.

The cast is headed by Richard Widmark, who like Wise was good at what he did yet spent much of his career in B-flicks. And, as with Wise, we can look at this positively and say that he at least leant some quality to pictures that have very little else going for them. He can't quite make the appalling dialogue sound plausible, but at least he emotes well and has strong presence. The Mongol characters may not be granted any dignity by the screenplay, but at least the reliable Murvyn Vye turns in a dignified performance as Chief Kengtu, adding a layer of personality to the character that is not there in the script.

These little oases of quality do not prevent Destination Gobi from mostly being a desert of mediocrity. Studying Robert Wise's work, this is like a little exercise in thoughtful direction, but nothing more because there isn't enough depth to the story or characters to make it pay off. And who would expect more from a ninety-minute no-brainer? However, at least the efforts of Wise (as well as renowned art directors Lyle Wheeler and Lewis Creber, and cinematographer Charles Clarke – well-deserved honourable mentions) have made it nice to look at. It's occasionally even entertaining as well.
Saddle Up, Mongols
Destination Gobi finds Richard Widmark assigned as the ranking non-commissioned officer on a Navy weather station in the Gobi Desert. Wrap your mind around that concept, Navy personnel in the middle of the Gobi Desert.

It's not an assignment that a guy who was a CPO on the USS Enterprise in 1944 is looking for. But that's what he's drawn. Widmark is to assist Captain Russell Collins in setting up one of a series of weather station in Inner Mongolia, that is that part of Mongolia located inside the Great Wall of China.

Collins is a meteorologist with a Navy commission, so Widmark is really the guy in charge. Setting up the advance outpost, the dozen or so sailors have to establish good relations with the local Mongol tribesmen who pretty much live as they did under Genghis Khan. The gifts that put it over are a requisition for some old army saddles from the late U.S. Cavalry.

Later on the Japanese bomb the station and Collins and others are killed. It's up to Widmark to get his men out of the Gobi Desert and avoid falling into the hands of the Japanese. The Mongols and their saddles prove to be of invaluable assistance.

I think Destination Gobi got a bit off track after the Japanese attack. The first part of the film was quite good, especially depicting the Mongol culture. But after the attack the escapades of the men trying to get to U.S. lines which in this case means to Eastern China and across the water to Okinawa was a bit much. The Japanese were shown to be as dumb as the Axis powers were shown during World War II and the height of the propaganda films made back then. Richard Loo who played so many nasty Japanese back in the day was the Japanese commander and he must have had a recurring case of deja vu.

Still Widmark does a fine job as does Murvyn Vye who is the head Mongol. They are ably supported by such stalwart character players as Don Taylor, Martin Milner, Casey Adams, Darryl Hickman, and Earl Holliman.

Destination Gobi could have been a much better film.
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