The Wind and the Lion is generally literate and very commercial period action drama, well written and better directed by John Milius. Film stars Sean Connery as an upstart independent Berber chieftain who in 1904 kidnaps Candice Bergen and children, provoking Brian Keith (as Theodore Roosevelt) into dramatic power politics, which confound European moves into North Africa.
The quasi-fictional story gives full exposition to the black, white and gray personal and political elements involved, providing focal points of empathy and criticism for all.
The film sustains itself throughout, the first hour carefully laying out the diverse attitudes and motivations of the principals, and the second depicting the ultimate and daring rescue ploy which frees both Bergen and Connery while sparking Keith’s own political career.
Connery scores one of his major screen impressions, while Bergen handles with assured excellence the subtleties of a woman first outraged at her captor, later his benefactor after a multinational doublecross. Keith’s performance is marvelous.
Milius, armed with an expert crew of action specialists, has crafted a superior film, enhanced even further by Jerry Goldsmith’s outstanding score.
1975: Nomination: Best Original Score, Sound