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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Escape From Zahrain (1962)

An Arab state called Zahrain is in political turmoil as its corrupt ruler, in league with American oil interests, rules his country with an iron hand while rebels attempt to overthrow the government. The country's hope for self independence lies in the hand of an imprisoned revolutionary (Yul Brynner) condemned to die. A daring escape of several prisoners including the revolutionary finds them journeying across the desert in a stolen ambulance with soldiers in pursuit. 50 years later and the film shows that the political climate in the Middle East hasn't changed much. Politically, it's a rather simplistic film but as an action adventure, this is an exciting film. Unfortunately, it's held back by its low budget. California's Mojave desert substitutes for the Middle East and the film is compromised by poor rear projection shots, desert scenes that are clearly set on a Hollywood sound stage and some poor special effects like a cheesy desert sandstorm. All in all though, great fun. Nicely directed by Ronald Neame (THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE) with a rousing score by Lyn Murray (TO CATCH A THIEF). With James Mason, Sal Mineo, Jack Warden (in the film's best performance as an embezzler), Anthony Caruso (in the film's worst performance), Jay Novello and lovely Madlyn Rhue.

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