US film poster
|Directed by||Ken Annakin|
|Produced by||George Hambley Brown|
|Written by||George Hambley Brown
|Starring||Yvonne De Carlo
|Music by||Benjamin Frankel|
|Edited by||Alfred Roome|
|Distributed by||General Film Distributors (UK)
United Artists (US)
|9 July 1951|
The Hotel Sahara, situated in a desert oasis, quickly empties when the patrons learn that Italian Army has commenced hostilities in the North African Campaign. Emad, the hotel's owner, also wants to flee, but is persuaded by his fiancee, Yasmin, to stay and try to save the hotel, all he owns. The other two members of the staff also stay: Yasmin's mother, Madame Pallas, and Yusef, the major domo.
The Italians take over the hotel, and Capitano Alberto Giuseppi is soon captivated by Yasmin's charms. His orderly is attracted to Madame Pallas. Later, however, the Italian Army suffers a defeat, and the small detachment is ordered to destroy any structures that may aid the enemy - including the hotel - and retreat. Fortunately, Emad sabotages their truck to distract them and disconnects their demolition charges just in time to save the hotel. Yusef fires into the air to speed the Italians on their way.
Next to arrive are the British. Major Randall and Captain Cheynie both vie for Yasmin's attention, while Madame Pallas flirts with the enlisted men. Randall's assignment is to recruit the Arabs to work for the British. Emad informs the major that they prefer goods, rather than money, so he sends Cheynie and Private Binns back to requisition supplies. He also orders a dozen nylons, though Cheynie lies about not being able to find any. Randall finds out when Yasmin shows off Cheynie's gift. Emad agrees to arrange a conference with the Arabs, if only to get the British to leave; Randall sends Cheynie with Emad.
While they are gone, about a dozen Germans drive up, forcing the outnumbered British to hastily leave, Randall in his bathing suit. Leutnant Gunther von Heilicke requisitions the hotel, but is (initially) immune to Yasmin's charms. He sets off Randall's booby trap, but emerges unscathed. Emad and Cheynie return to the hotel on camels, accompanied by the Arabs. Fortunately, Cheynie is dressed in native garb. Von Heilicke has the Arabs stay for a feast, then insists on being introduced to the sheiks. Before he gets to Cheynie, Yasmin provides a distraction, dressing up in the departed Fatima's costume and performing a belly dance. Cheynie sneaks away and rejoins Randall.
The Germans in turn depart after they sight a large column approaching. This time, it is the French. They bring welcome news: the war is nearly over. The Germans and the British lurk in the vicinity. Then both the German leutnant and the British major come up with the same idea, to disguise themselves as Arabs (Cheynie as a veiled woman) and reconnoiter, but by the time they arrive, the French have already gone. When the three men discover each other, they start shooting. Von Heilicke flees, after running out of bullets, chased by the other two. Just when it seems it is all over, Emad and Yasmin hear an American voice.
George Hambley Brown knew Peter Ustinov from their time together in the RAF Film Unit during World War II. After the war the two co-produced School for Secrets and Vice Versa. Based on some of his experiences in the Western Desert Campaign, Brown sought Yvonne De Carlo for the role of Yasmin by writing her and saying that he observed that she had a flair to play comedy.
- Yvonne De Carlo as Yasmin Pallas
- Peter Ustinov as Emad
- David Tomlinson as Captain Edgar "Puffin" Cheynie
- Roland Culver as Major Bill Randall
- Albert Lieven as Leutnant Gunther von Heilicke
- Bill Owen as Private Binns
- Guido Lorraine as Captano Alberto Giuseppi
- Mireille Perrey as Madame Pallas
- Ferdy Mayne as Yusef
- Sydney Tafler as Corporal Pullar
- Eugene Deckers as a French Spahi officer
- Anton Diffring as a German Soldier
- Olga Lowe as Fatima
- "I Love a Man", music by Benjamin Frankel (as Ben Bernard), lyrics by Harold Purcell, sung by Yvonne De Carlo
- "Say Goodbye, Soldier Boy", music by Benjamin Frankel (as Ben Bernard), lyrics by Harold Purcell, sung by Yvonne De Carlo
- "Early One Morning", traditional, sung by Yvonne De Carlo
- Five Graves to Cairo (1943)
- Vallance, Tom George H. Brown Obituary The Independent 9 January 2001