Sands of the Kalahari

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Sands of the Kalahari
Original movie poster for the film Sands of the Kalahari.jpg
Directed by Cy Endfield
Produced by Stanley Baker
Cy Endfield
Written by William Mulvihill (novel)
Cy Endfield
Starring Stuart Whitman
Stanley Baker
Susannah York
Music by John Dankworth
Cinematography Erwin Hillier
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
Running time
119 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Sands of the Kalahari is a 1965 British adventure film starring Stuart Whitman, Stanley Baker, Susannah York, Harry Andrews and Theodore Bikel, based on the 1960 novel by William Mulvihill.[1] The screenplay was written by Cy Endfield and William Mulvihill and directed by Cy Endfield. It was filmed in South-West Africa and Spain and released by Paramount Pictures.


The plot involves a disparate and desperate group of plane crash survivors thrust into a savage mountainous desert region somewhere within present-day Namibia. Brian O'Brien - played by Stuart Whitman - is a big game hunter and the best survivalist of the group. Shortly after his plane crashes, stranding its passengers, he risks his life by re-entering the burning wreck and recovering vital supplies, including a hunting rifle; however, O'Brien's motives are far from noble. Thinking his own chances will be improved by the absence of competition, he ruthlessly eliminates his fellow survivors, one by one, intending to leave only Grace Munkton (Susannah York) alive, an "Eve" for his "Adam."

In addition to O'Brien's treachery, the survivors are menaced by a troop of baboons inhabiting the area. Initially content to holler at the intruders from the distance, the animals gradually become more aggressive.

Before O'Brien is able to bring his dastardly plan to fruition, a fellow survivor he had driven off into the desert at gun point (presumably to die) returns with a rescue party. The remaining survivors make their escape in a helicopter. O'Brien, however, aware he will be prosecuted for murder if he returns to civilization, chooses to remain behind.

With O'Brien the sole human in their domain, the baboons become more belligerent. At first he is able to keep them at bay with his rifle. When he runs out of ammunition, O'Brien brazenly challenges the alpha male to a fight and succeeds in killing him with his bare hands. In the film's final shot the remaining baboons encircle the lone hunter and ominously amble towards him.



Joseph E. Levine was keen for Stanley Baker and Cy Endfield to make another film in Africa after the success of Zulu (1963). They initially announced plans to adapt Wilbur Smith's debut novel, When the Lion Feeds but eventually decided on Sands of the Kalahari. Baker persuaded his childhood friend Richard Burton to star along with his wife Elizabeth Taylor, but Taylor was reluctant to film in Africa and demanded more money than Levine was interested in paying.

Burton pulled out and George Peppard and Susannah York were cast instead.[2][3] However shortly after filming commenced, Peppard left the project (probably for The Blue Max), and Stuart Whitman was flown in as a replacement.[4][5]

The film was shot on location in the Kalahari Desert, with studio work done at Shepperton Studios in London.[6]

See also[edit]

  • Survival film, about the film genre, with a list of related films


  1. ^
  2. ^ Mel Neuhaus, 'Apes of Wrath', 19 July 2011
  3. ^ MOVIE CALL SHEET: 'Dave Clark Five' to Star in First Feature Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 22 Mar 1965: c19.
  4. ^ David Shipman, 'George Peppard Obituary', The Independent, 10 May 1994 accessed 19 May 2012
  5. ^ Peppard Ankles 'Kalahari Set Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 26 Mar 1965: d13.
  6. ^ 'Why not film it there?': Correct locale Never looked back Exactly right Stringer, William H. The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current file) [Boston, Mass] 23 July 1965: 4.

External links[edit]