|Index||9 reviews in total|
I saw this movie when it came out back in the early 60's. Thought it was a very good movie with a splendid cast and lots of suspense. Would like to be able to buy a copy of it either on DVD or VHS. Is there any chance it will soon be available? Have jeeped many times in the Mojave desert where the filming took place. The exact location was east of Barstow, California. Whoever did the driving of the ambulance did an excellent job in some very difficult terrain. The plot was excellent. It gave a very good account of the situation in the middle east at that time. Yul Brynner did an excellent job in the film, as did Sal Mineo and Jack Warden. Please make this great film available.
Not at all a bad film, reminiscent of "Ice Cold in Alex", in that an
ambulance and its occupants have to make a perilous journey across
inhospitable terrain. At first the colour seemed a bit garish, but I
was interested to see that outdoor filming was in the Mojave Desert,
which was a very convincing substitute for the Middle Eastern country
of "Zahrein". Madlyn Rhue seemed a bit insipid as the nurse, and James
Mason stole the short scene he was in (which contributed nothing to the
plot, save to allow Jack Warden to steal his whisky, the consumption of
which did add something later on).
Quite why the treacherous Anthony Caruso ("Tarah") was tolerated by his fellow fugitives was a bit puzzling. The final action sequence was not convincing, in fact it was contrived.
But overall an enjoyable film to watch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was the third English movie that I saw as a kid, after "Jungle Cat" and "Absent Minded Professor". I thought that it was an excellent action adventure film at the time. Yul Brynner is always good to watch and Sal Mineo's death particularly upset me since he looked so young. Although I could see the holes in the plot line when I saw it again as an adult, I still think that it is better than a lot of other movies of the genre, with some good photography and sound effects. The climactic scenes were particularly well done and the acting overall was quite good. Pity that it is still not available as DVD. I hope that Paramount Pictures take note.
Released in 1962, "Escape from Zahrain" is a survival-in-the-desert
flick that takes place in the fictitious Arabian country of Zahrain.
Yul Brynner plays Sheriff, a righteous Arab revolutionary, while Sal
Mineo plays his young disciple who sets him free from captivity and
certain death. An Arab nurse (Madlyn Rhue), an embezzling oil worker
(Jack Warden) and a mad Arab (Anthony Caruso) are also along for the
ride. Can they make it to a bordering nation and freedom or will they
all perish in the desert?
Although it's Grade B (and cartoony) in comparison to the way more popular and sophisticated desert film "Lawrence of Arabia" (also from '62), "Escape to Zahrain" is actually more compelling, which is different than saying it's better, it's not. It's just more immediately satisfying. Two other survival-in-the-desert films that "Zahrain" brings to mind are "Flight of the Phoenix" and "Sands of the Kalahari", both released in 1965. If you like those two films, you'll definitely like this one. As great as they are "Zahrain" is as good or better.
There's some serious action at the beginning and end of the film, but the heart of the picture is the long trek through the desert and the interplay of the characters. Sheriff (Brynner) and Ahmed (Mineo) have had it with the corrupt officials of Zahrain who rape the land with the technology of the Americans but then greedily keep the cash for their own filthy rich lifestyles; meanwhile the citizenry wallows in poverty and ignorance. The nurse (Madlyn) was educated in Europe and doesn't understand the reckless passion of the revolutionaries. She's against them because she's nursed the wounded & dying followers of Sheriff, mostly youths. The American, Huston (Warden), is viewed as part of the problem by the revolutionaries, but they need him to escape and survive. And then you have the freakin' crazy Arab, Tahar (Caruso), also called "Frankenstein" or "Franky" by Huston. Is he friend or foe, or neither? Also on hand is a pleasant cameo by a major star from that time period, but I don't want to give it away.
The film was shot in the Mojave Desert, California, but you'd hardly know as the filmmakers did a great job of giving the illusion that it's somewhere in the Middle East. My wife, for instance, guessed that it was shot in Egypt.
At 93 minutes the film doesn't overstay its welcome.
FINAL WORD: Despite being a serious Grade B picture, "Escape from Zahrain" is Grade A in heart. The film is bookended by quality action sequences, but its core is character-driven. You get to know these characters as they trek through the sweltering desert. Their strengths and weaknesses are revealed and you can't help but start to care for them, just as they develop a sense of community amongst themselves.
Criminally underrated and unknown, "Escape to Zahrain" ranks with the best desert films, Grade B though it is. It's also one of Yul's best and the other principles. No kidding.
Plot wise this movie stretches it to keep your attention however the cast
cool. Madalyn Rhue is a natural beauty however she comes off a bit nasty
uptight in the two films I've seen her in, "Escape from Zahrain" and "A
Majority of One." Both were on as weekend midday movies so my expectations
wernt too great.
Sal Mineo is really hot. He was a spunk for his time. Perfect skin and just enough buff. Unfortunatly the sexual tension between him and madlyns character was never realised. One of the reasons i had kept with this movie, but oh well.
Well half the sets are obviously fake however it isn't that noticeble. They wern't so bad to a cynic like me who now demands location shots or at least computer animation.
Not bad for the time, a tad over dramatic at times but watch it for Sal Mineo!
I just discovered that there's a new book coming out by Richard Matheson. It's called "Unrealized Dreams: Three Scripts by Richard Matheson." It's being released by Gauntlet Press (you can find them online.) The book features Richard Matheson's original screenplay for "Appointment in Zahrain." This film was originally to star Clarke Gable. Unfortunately, Gable died shortly after filming "The Misfits." Matheson's screenplay was never produced. Eventually, "Escape From Zahrain" was produced from Michael Barret's original novel, "Appointment in Zahrain." Too bad the film is unavailable for viewing on either VHS or DVD. I'd love to see this film.
With an obligatory bow for a few political polemics regarding the
Middle East, Escape From Zahrain is essentially an action adventure
film about the leader of a rebel faction being broken out of custody
and escaping from a Middle Eastern principality. Zahrain is a mythical
country along the lines of Muscat-Oman, Yemen, or Qatar or better still
the more well known Kuwait. With the ruling class living fabulously
wealthy lives due to oil, most of the people are barely scratching out
a living. In the next century a place like Zahrain would be a breeding
ground for terrorists.
Yul Brynner is the rebel leader and Sal Mineo is an idealistic student who leads a group that springs Brynner and a few others who are along for the ride. They include some common criminal types Anthony Caruso and Jay Novello and one unusual one in Jack Warden, formerly employed by the big oil cartel, but now in prison for embezzlement. Can't be too pleasant for him in a third world jail.
Losing the truck they escaped in, they hijack due to Warden an ambulance belonging to the oil company and get driver Leonard Strong and nurse Madelyn Rhue as well. This then is the crew trying to Escape From Zahrain.
The rulers want Brynner real bad and they're out in force for him. Probably the biggest manhunt in the history of the country.
In a recent biography of Sal Mineo, Mineo was pleased to be reunited with Brynner whom he had played on Broadway with in The King And I. Mineo took over the part of the crown prince during the run and Brynner was like a father to him in real life. Brynner was not an easy guy to know or get along with, but apparently he and Mineo hit it off, very few did with this man who kept an air of mystery about him his entire life.
Warden and Caruso are a pair of interesting characters. In contrast to the idealistic Brynner and Mineo, these two are a pair of realists. Caruso is a real low life, but he does prove useful, but only when one keeps an eye on him. Warden is a cynic in the Bogart tradition, but kind of comes around in the end even though all he wants to do is get out the whole middle east.
Escape From Zahrain moves at a pretty good clip. It doesn't let the political polemics get too much in the way of the action.
This not a review per se. I saw it a long time ago when it first came
out, at our local drive-in theater. I have been looking for it from
time to time ever since because I liked it. It was exciting, had a
great chase scene and held my interest throughout.
Time has dimmed my memory - that, and the fact that I was partially distracted at the time (I was at a drive-in, recall), and so I have lost the main thread of the plot.
And so, I just wonder, why has it not been released in any format? Many, many worse have been available in many forms. I am always shocked when I stop by this site and see the dismal grade this picture has been awarded. I would like to see it again to find out if I really liked it or if the extracurricular activities attendant to drive-in going affected or enhanced my viewing pleasure.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of the movies that I saw in Paramount's theatrette, along with twenty or thirty of the city's other critics and opinion-makers. I stopped attending these screenings and elected to see new releases in a regular cinema instead, because the mood at the theatrette was nearly always negative. The one exception was "Hatari" (1962), which I thought was an absolutely dreadful movie. But they all loved it! So that was the last time I attended any of Paramount's preview screenings. Anyway, I found "Escape from Zahrain" quite exciting. Yul Brynner never made a bad movie in his life. And in this one, he receives great support from Jack Warden, Madlyn Rhue (whatever happened to her?) and Sal Mineo. (Oddly, although he is listed second to Brynner in the Official Cast, Sal Mineo is NOT credited in any of Paramount's posters, artwork or newspaper ads).
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