Lost Command is a good contemporary action-melodrama about some French paratroopers who survive France’s humiliation and defeat in Southeast Asia, only to be sent to rebellious Algeria. Filmed in Spain, the Mark Robson production [based on a novel by Jean Larteguy] has enough pace, action and exterior eye appeal to overcome a sometimes routine script.
Anthony Quinn heads the players as the gruff, low-born soldier who has risen to field grade rank because of the attrition of Indo-Chinese guerrilla warfare which decimated the ranks of the French army.
Providing a two-way contrast, and exemplifying the extremes to which the Quinn character never extends, are Alain Delon and Maurice Ronet. Delon is the sensitive, quiet but effective assistant who, at fadeout, leaves military service, since fighting in itself has become meaningless. Ronet is brutal, sadistic and callous, yet with enough fighting effectiveness to be needed in battle.
This very meaty and pathetic plot irony will strike some as underdeveloped, in that Quinn and Segal never effect a personal confrontation until latter is needlessly killed by Ronet, but by then it is too late.