Saddles for the Gobi
CPO Samuel T. McHale (Richard Widmark - Panic in the Streets) loves life in the Navy and has been in the service for 16 years, so when he learns that his expertise is needed at one of the US Navy's weather stations in the Gobi desert he is not impressed. But he goes about his job in the desert in a professional manner and almost 6 months later is looking forward to the hand over to the next team. But things become complicated when the Japanese step up their search of the deserts looking for the weather stations and McHale turns to Kengtu (Murvyn Vye), a Nomadic chief, for help to escape the Japanese and lead them to the coast and safety in return for 60 saddles for their horses.
"Destination Gobi" tells us at the start it is based on an obscure entry in the Navy records in Washington called 'Saddles for Gobi' and that the movie is based on this strange story from WWII. And yes the story of a small Navy weather station putting in a requisition for 60 saddles to give to the Nomads in return for their help is a strangely amusing one. But whilst the true story is an unusual one "Destination Gobi" is just an entertaining but regular war movie from the 1950s.
The thing is that "Destination Gobi" isn't bad, it has some humour such as the scene where the requisition order for saddles gets passed from one command to another and it has moments of tension such as when the men come under attack but beyond the uniqueness of the story it is familiar. The American characters are all extremely typical as is the banter they share whilst stationed in the middle of the desert. The action is just as typical from the men shooting at Japanese planes when they fly over to watching the Mongol's train to ride their horses in the Cavalry way. And then there is Richard Widmark who like John Wayne almost seemed to be playing themselves in some movies and "Destination Gobi" is one of them.
What this all boils down to is that "Destination Gobi" is an entertaining 1950's war movie with an amusingly unusual story. But despite the uniqueness of the story it is only a stereotypical 1950's war movie in style.