Art Director George Provis had designed a beautiful pool for the nuptial bathing scene ( on YouTube), the location oasis having only a small well. Producer Bill MacQuitty, a generous and thoughtful Irishman, was aware that the pool would ever after be a useful water supply for the Bedouin and instructed that it be made strongly for permanency. The village headman saw the producer's generosity differently, the concrete pool desecrated the oasis and must be removed. It was - and the Sahara regained a hundred square meters of lost sand.
I had the good fortune to be involved in the filming. I was sixteen and had gone to Libya as a young actor for desert location scenes prior to shooting interiors at Pinewood Studios .
I recall that tragic circumstances made the off-camera events as memorable as those fly-blown Sahara shooting-days. A couple of days after my arrival at Idris airport the once-daily flight from London's Heathrow ended in tragedy when a BOAC DC4 Argonaut crashed in flames on landing killing fifteen and badly injuring many of the forty-seven on board. Idris facilities were about what you'd expect of one of the world's poorest nations with an international terminal that looked like it was the film set from Bogart's 'Casablanca' and the boys and girls at the Wheelus Field USAF base the other side of Tripoli had mobilized immediately, with helicopters ferrying the injured to the military hospital.
A few days later, at a break in the filming schedule, I visited the base with a young woman survivor of the crash.. Tearful eyes all round including those of the chopper-boys filled with laughter when Rosemarie discovered the bouquet they had given her was swarming with ants which had joined the blooms somewhere locally. An international incident was narrowly avoided when this naive British visitor took a photograph of his beautiful companion. I had not noticed that the background included some tents and several large aircraft. I still have the Zeiss camera which I had bought cheaply a couple of days before, just a museum piece now in our age of digital photography but I always remember that day when I had to hand over the film to the fierce military policeman declaring us off-limits. Actually he turned out to be quite an affable sort who having executed his official task seemed more than happy to assist my companion who had discovered that the ants were now invading her blouse. Uncle Sam's Military Police are clearly up to anything the day throws at them and the Snowdrop produced some magic mosquito cream which he applied liberally to her neck. His enthusiasm for the task knew no bounds and soon it was the turn of the visitor gently to point out what was off limits. Apart from the loss of my pictures it was a memorable day with hospitable hosts, an air-conditioned day that offered a welcome contrast to the sweltering Sahara filming days that lay ahead. Happy days! All captured in Love,Life and Moving Pictures, tales of the Black Tent location. Find it at Amazon.See more