Synopsis: In 1925 Damascus Harry Smith runs guns to the rebels under Emir Hassan. The French arrest him along with others and force him to sell weapons to them. He develops an interest in French intelligence officer Feroud's mistress Violette.
Director(s): Curtis Bernhardt
Production: Columbia Pictures
98 min

Gentlemen. Emir Hassan.


You represent

English and American newspapers.

You ask for an interview.

You want to know why

we Syrians fight the French.

You may tell your people...

...we fight

because they have invaded our country.

They want to govern us, tell us what to do.

We want to govern ourselves.

We want Syria for ourselves.

We fight to throw out our enemies.

To recapture our freedom.

And we will win...

...because God and justice are on our side.

France is not in Syria as an enemy.

We come because of a mandate

granted to us by the League of Nations...

...which Emir Hassan and his followers

refuse to recognise.

We are here because it's our duty.

We intend to fulfil that duty.

With divine guidance, victory will be ours.

He says the curfew spoils his business.

lf he waits for the sun to come up,

his fish will stink.

Tell him his fish stink already.

l've tried appealing to reason.

l've offered concessions.

l've posted proclamations.

Now l am forced to resort

to more drastic measures.

l have here a list of

prominent Druze sympathisers.

l want them taken into custody immediately.

Today at noon, six of them will be

lined up against a wall in the square...

...where our men were murdered.

The remaining will be forced

to witness their execution.

-Do l make myself clear?

-Yes, sir.

l want one last proclamation posted.

From today on...

...for every Frenchman murdered,

we will execute five Syrian hostages.

There's a language they should understand.

That's the fourth patrol

they've shot up in 10 days.

My orders are

to stop Arab resistance in this area.

That's exactly what l intend to do.

Thank you, gentlemen.


Yes, sir.

Why don't you say it! Go ahead and say it!

This hostage business

makes you want to vomit.

On the contrary, l think

it's an excellent idea, as far as it goes.

But why shoot only five hostages?

Why not 10?

Or even 20 for every soldier killed?

ln no time,

you'll have the population of Damascus...

...against the walls,

and you've ended all resistance.

My soldiers didn't survive Verdun

to have their throats cut in this hole.

Sit down.

Do you think l like to slaughter civilians?

The Syrians will think so.

They don't think.

They're guerrillas, bandits.

They consider themselves patriots.

We French came along with a mandate--

They don't like it, and they don't trust us!

l know all that!

l know how to make them happy, too.

Pack up my army and march out.

lf l may say so, there is another way.

You could send me to see Emir Hassan.

You never let go of an idea, do you?

lt still isn't too late to arrange a truce.

You'd only get your throat cut.

You know what a butcher he is.

l wonder what they'll call you

after you execute those hostages.

Never mind what they'll call me.

l'm only concerned with doing my duty.

What about the men who are supplying them

guns and ammunition?

-You should have had some results by now.

-l think l have a lead.

But one or two leads. lt's like trying

to stop up the holes in a sieve.

You want them to call me softheaded.


You have to be realistic.

There's more than one way

of being realistic, sir.


-Yes, sir.

Countermand my order to shoot hostages.

Arrest them, hold them for 48 hours

and then release them.

Yes, sir.

Satisfied, Louie?

Perhaps you're right.

Perhaps sending someone

to see the Emir is the best way.

That pleases you, doesn't it?

lt's worth a try.

But l'm not sending you.

You're too valuable a man.

Send someone else in your place.

Lt. Collet.

Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.

No smoking.

Look how everybody's worried. Why worry?

He asked us to come, we came.

lf he wants to do business, we do business.

lf he doesn't want to do business,

we don't do business. Right?

Not right. Wrong.

What do we have to sell? Food.

Since when does the Chief of lntelligence

buy food for the Army?

Don't make me nervous.

As you were.

Good morning, Colonel.

Beautiful morning, Colonel.

There's very little more l can tell you.

This is where you'll meet the contact.

He'll take you to insurgent headquarters.

And as far as l know, he's reliable.

But don't trust him.

Don't trust anybody. Watch yourself.

Yes, sir.

Give him this message from me.

lt will introduce you.

You're aware of how much depends on you?

Yes, sir.

You'll have to change into civilian clothes.

Carry some sort of small arms.

They'll probably take it away from you.

This is entirely voluntary, you understand?

lt isn't an order.

There's a good chance

of your getting killed.

l understand, Colonel.

All right. Good luck, Collet.

Thank you, Colonel.

You see, you asked us to come

and we came. Just like you asked.

l'm informed that all you gentlemen

hold considerable quantities of food.

-Not very much.

-You want to buy? We want to sell.

l'm further informed that

contrary to regulations... take advantage of the food shortage,

to sell at outrageous prices.

No. Where did you get such an idea?

-This isn't what l dictated.

-l'm sorry, Colonel.

The Army will not tolerate profiteering

in any form.

-Why should you?

-Of course not, Colonel.

lt's dishonest.

Now, l have invited you here

in order to make a suggestion.

lt'll save you a lot of trouble if you sell

all your supplies to the quartermaster.

Of course, gladly. But the price.

We want to be fair.

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A.I. Bezzerides

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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