Sahara (1995 film)
|Directed by||Brian Trenchard-Smith|
|Produced by||Darryl Sheen|
|Screenplay by||David Phillips|
|Story by||Philip MacDonald|
Alan David Lee
|Music by||Garry McDonald and Lawrence Stone|
|Edited by||Alan Lake
|Distributed by||TriStar Television|
Sahara (also known as Desert Storm) is a 1995 American/Australian made-for-television action war film shot in Australia and directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith. Starring James Belushi, Alan David Lee and Simon Westaway, Sahara is a remake of the 1943 film of the same name starring Humphrey Bogart.
In June 1942, on the eve of the Battle of El Alamein, American Sergeant Joe Gunn (James Belushi) and the crew of his M3 Lee tank Lulu Belle are the sole survivors of their unit. Boxed in by the enemy, they have no choice but to head south. They come across a group of Allied stragglers at a destroyed first aid station. The stragglers, led by British doctor Captain Halliday (Jerome Ehlers), decide to ride with Gunn in an attempt to escape the advancing Afrika Korps. Along the way, they pick up first British Sudanese soldier Tambul (Robert Wisdom) and his Italian prisoner, Giuseppe (Angelo D'Angelo), then downed Luftwaffe pilot lieutenant von Schletow (Julian Garner). The group ends up at a deserted Saharan oasis in search of water. With the Germans right behind them, they decide to stay and defend the well, holding up a battalion of 500 Germans.
The well has completely dried up by then. A standoff and battle of wills begins between Gunn and Major von Falken (Alexander Petersons), the German commander. Gunn keeps up the pretense that the well has much water and negotiates to buy time. Eventually, the Germans attack and are beaten off again and again, but one by one, the defenders are killed. During the fighting, von Schletow, the German flyer, tries to escape, injuring Giuseppe who tries to stop him. Giuseppe is then killed by German fire as he tries to alert Gunn. Tambul chases down and kills von Schletow, but is shot as he returns. Before he dies, he tells the others that the Germans did not learn that the well was dry.
When the German commander attempts to resolve the impasse, embittered "Frenchie" Leroux (Michael Massee) meets him outside the fort and kills him, only to be shot down by a sniper while returning to his side. Without a leader, the thirst-maddened Germans' final assault turns into a full-blown surrender as they drop their weapons and claw across the sand towards the well. Gunn discovers, to his shock, that a German shell that exploded in the well has tapped into a source of water. Gunn and Bates (Alan David Lee), the only other Allied survivor, disarm the Germans while they drink their fill. Ultimately, a British Long Range Desert Patrol arrives at the oasis to take charge of the prisoners.
Well respected as a director who could achieve impressive results within the confines of small budgets, Brian Trenchard-Smith, the son of an Australian officer in the Royal Air Force lived in England, but before migrating to Australia, studied filmmaking. Among his 39 movies, five were commissioned by Showtime, including Sahara, the remake of the World War II classic. The film was made on location at Port Stephens, New South Wales, Australia. The German soldiers were played by 130 Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Australian Army personnel.
A Fiat G.59 in Luftwaffe desert camouflage is used in the film. The tank in the film was an original M3 Lee from WW 2, but a version supplied to Australia. It differed from the American version by having the commander cupola with .30 caliber machine gun removed and the tracks used on British Commonwealth M3 Lee and Grant tanks.
Film historian Alun Evans in Brassey's Guide to War Films, mainly reviewed the earlier 1943 production, but compared and contrasted the two features, noting that the remake had "... sunlight so bright, you need to turn the contrast buttons right down, If you could only say that about the movie."
- "Brian Trenchard-Smith." IMDb. Retrieved: November 30, 2014.
- "Brian Trenchard-Smith." ACMI. Retrieved: November 30, 2014.
- "Sahara (1995)." Internet Movie Plane Database. Retrieved: November 30, 2014.
- Evans 2000, p. 162.
- Evans, Alun. Brassey's Guide to War Films. Dulles, Virginia: Potomac Books, 2000. ISBN 1-57488-263-5.