Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Stuart Whitman vs. a ticked off baboon

SANDS OF THE KALAHARI (1965). Director: Cy Endfield.

This was one of two heavily promoted desert/plane crash movies released in 1965, the other being The Flight of the Phoenix. In this a group of travelers, told their regular flight has been delayed, decide to continue on in a small charter plane. Unfortunately said plane runs into a swarm of locusts which clog the engines and cause the craft to crash in the middle of the Kalahari desert. Unlike Phoenix, this picture includes a pretty blond (Susannah York) for some of the men to fight over. Stuart Whitman plays a nasty character who forces one older man (Theodore Bikel) to march through the desert at gun point to try to get help after the pilot, who set off on a similar journey, doesn't come back. [What happens to the pilot is quite ironic.] Eventually a battle of wills develops between Whitman and the remaining passengers, especially Mike Bain (Stanley Baker), who rightly sees the man as the dangerous nut that he is. A miscast Whitman is only adequate in the role of the basically sociopathic O'Brien, and at times York doesn't seem to know what to make of her helpless and unsympathetic character. Baker, Bikel, and Harry Andrews as a German passenger are all excellent. Although the advertisements for the film played up the presence of dangerous baboons in the area, these animals really haven't much to do until the very end of the picture. [Killer baboons later showed up in In the Shadow of Kilimanjaro.]

Verdict: Man vs. man with nature waiting in the wings. ***.


readerman said...

Love this film. Waited for years for it to come out on DVD, remembering it from thirty years ago. It doesn't disappoint. Susannah York is lovely.

readerman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William said...

Thanks for your comments. By the way, your blog Watch Classics is beautiful. I've added it to my blog roll. Best, William

Anonymous said...

"do you love me?"
do't be silly"-great line