Destination Gobi (1953)
|Year Of Production||1953|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Robert Wise|
20th CENTURY FOX
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Unknown||English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
It is November 1944 and Chief Petty Officer Sam McHale (Richard Widmark) is transferred off the USS Enterprise and given a new assignment; under the command of Lieutenant Commander Wyatt (Russell Collins) he is to take a small party of meteorologists to an oasis in the Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia and there set up a weather station to provide weather reports to the navy. McHale is not pleased to be “wet-nursing” a bunch of weathermen, including Jenkins (Don Taylor), Landers (Max Showalter) and “Coney” Cohen (Darryl Hickman) but orders are orders and the station is established, the main enemies being heat, dust and isolation, although the possibility of Japanese cavalry appearing is an ever present danger.
Their isolation is broken when a tribe of nomad Mongolians arrive at the oasis with their families and animals. After some initial misunderstandings, an agreement is reached with the Mongolian leader Kengtu (Murvyn Vye); the navy will supply the Mongolians with 60 western type saddles in return for protection from the Japanese. A requisition is duly sent off to Naval HQ and, despite some questions, the saddles are delivered. However, when the oasis is bombed by Japanese aircraft and Wyatt and a number of Mongolians are killed Kengtu and the Mongolians leave, taking their horses, and the 60 saddles, with them.
With their radio and weather equipment destroyed, and the likelihood of more Japanese raids, McHale decides that they must leave the oasis and is determined to trek across the Gobi, and part of China, both areas occupied by the Japanese, to the sea over 800 miles away. On the way they face thirst and an unscrupulous camel trader before they once again meet Kengtu, who agrees to help them. But their adventure is not yet over as they encounter Japanese patrols, are captured, escape and steal a Chinese junk where the weathermen must become real sailors!
Destination Gobi is directed competently by Robert Wise, who went on to win Oscars for West Side Story (1961) and The Sound of Music (1965) as well as directing the interesting The Sand Pebbles (1966) starring Steve McQueen and Richard Attenborough. Richard Widmark gives his usual strong performance as the stern but fair CPO and the desert landscapes, shot in Technicolor in Arizona by cinematographer Charles G Clarke, look impressive. The film has humour, the action, especially the bombing and explosions, is well staged, and mono audio track is pretty impressive.
Destination Gobi starts with a caption that tells us that the Navy records in Washington contain the entry “Saddles for Gobi” and that the film is based on the story behind that entry. Maybe that is true, and maybe there was a navy weather station in Mongolia towards the end of WW2, but whatever the truth Destination Gobi made in 1953 is a fun B picture “boys own adventure” with colourful locations, action, resourceful Americans, dastardly Japanese and crafty ethnics with questionable morals.
Destination Gobi is presented in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, close to the original 1.37:1, and is not16x9 enhanced.
This is a Technicolor film, now over 60 years old, but it looks pretty good. Some stock establishing shots or wide shots are soft but generally detail in close-up and medium shots is strong. Colours are deep and natural, with vivid blue skies and brown, sandy desert. Blacks and shadow detail are fine, skin tones natural, brightness and contrast consistent. This was also a good, clean print, with only a couple of tiny marks. I must say that I was surprised at how good the film looks.
No subtitles are provided.
Audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 192 Kbps. The film was shown theatrically with mono sound.
Dialogue is always clear and easy to understand. I was also surprised at how loud and impressive the explosions during the bombing, and later during an encounter at sea, were. Other effects including the wind, voices and hooves, were fine. The score by Sol Kaplan referenced Anchors Away frequently and was not otherwise very memorable.
I did not notice any lip synchronisation issues. Pops, clicks and hisses were not present.
|Surround Channel Use|
Nothing. The static menu offers only Play Movie / Chapters.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
There are various versions of Destination Gobi listed on sales sites, the US release is NTSC, the UK PAL, but none have any extras. Buy local.
I admit that I had not heard of Destination Gobi before receiving it for review. It is an obscure, early Technicolor title from Twentieth Century Fox that remains great fun, a colourful old fashioned action adventure which may, or may not, be true although US sailors in the Gobi desert towards the end of WW2 running a secret weather station and requisitioning saddles is an intriguing premise that deserves to be true!
The film is over 60 years old but looks very good, the audio is acceptable. There are no extras.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|