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Ashanti (1979) Poster

(1979)

Trivia

Actor William Holden accepted a lowly seventh billed role on this picture as bush helicopter pilot Jim Sandell so he could work on location in his beloved Africa where he owned a safari club.
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When nobody met actor Rex Harrison at the airport in Israel, he flew back to Hollywood.
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Michael Caine has said many times that he acted in this film purely for monetary reasons and considers it the worst project he's ever done. Caine once said that the film was "the worst, most wretched film I ever made".
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Due to the extreme high temperatures, a camel collapsed during the shoot and fell on Michael Caine. Caine once said "It was so bad that my camel fainted and rolled on top of me. I thought it was a bit much to expect me to act in that heat when my camel was collapsing!".
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The picture represented a rare movie role as a villain for actor Peter Ustinov. Publicity for the film stated the part was Ustinov's first out-and-out bad guy role in his then thirty-year-long career.
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One of the final feature films for both actors Rex Harrison and William Holden.
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For the role of helicopter pilot Jim Sandell, William Holden replaced James Coburn who had replaced Telly Savalas.
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The film's "Ashanti" title refers to the name of a proud African tribe who fought the Dutch and British armies during the 18th and 19th Centuries. The descendants survived to form the modern African state of Ghana.
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During the shoot, Rex Harrison advised actress Beverly Johnson to get the most out of the producers at every turn she could.
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Actors Kabir Bedi and Peter Ustinov had just worked together the previous year on The Thief of Baghdad (1978).
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Supermodel turned actress Beverley Johnson was the first ever African-American model to be featured on the cover of "Vogue" magazine in 1974.
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The key role of Anansa was originally cast with actress Beverly Todd. But Beverly Johnson's husband Danny Sims was able to convince the producers to reconsider and cast his wife.
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Actress Beverly Johnson was attacked by a masseuse in her hotel room whilst on location and subsequently was arrested for slapping the man.
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'Beverly Johnson (III)' was pregnant during principal photography but did not tell the producers. The white dress she wears during the end of the film had to be let out due to this. It was designed by veteran Hollywood costume designer Edith Head.
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The name of Prince Hassan (Omar Sharif)'s yacht was "Odalisque" of the port of Panama. The word "Odalisque", according to the Oxford Dictionary, is from the Turkish "Odalik" and means "a female slave or concubine in an Ottoman seraglio, especially the Imperial Harem of the sultan".
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The film's title "Ashanti" was somewhat confusing for audiences as many people tended to think that the character played by model-actress Beverly Johnson was called "Ashanti". Johnson's image appeared prominently on one of the movie's main posters where she was positioned above the film's bold title, sitting chained in the desert in a red dress showing much cleavage, and comprising 60% of the poster. Her character was actually named Anansa (full name: Dr. Anansa Linderby) and not "Ashanti", which refers to the African tribe Anansa was a descendant of.
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In this film, actor Michael Caine's character, Dr. David Linderby, is married to Dr. Anansa Linderby, who was played by African-American super-model turned actress Beverly Johnson, her character's genealogical lineage being from the Ashanti tribe in West Africa. In real life, since 1973, Caine has been married to Shakira Caine (formerly Shakira Baksh), who was born in South America in British Guiana, now Guyana.
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One of two 1979 movies that Michael Caine starred in, the other being Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979). Both are films considered to be among Caine's "paycheck" projects, done primarily for the money. Others include The Island (1980) and Blame It on Rio (1984).
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The casting of actor Michael Caine in the lead role in this picture connected to his past on-screen persona as Caine had starred in the earlier Africa set classic Zulu (1964) around fifteen years earlier.
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In his recent autobiography, Michael Caine stated that this was his worst film and advised the reader not to watch it.
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According to a TV Interview on Pebble Mill (1972), Saeed Jaffrey was cut out of this project
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Beverly Johnson replaced another actress who was fired. She also was the only female character in the cast
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George MacDonald Fraser worked as a script doctor for scenes concerning Omar Sharif as the Arab Prince so as to enlarge his part on the picture as the role Sharif was playing was originally written as a small part.
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George MacDonald Fraser said in his memoirs that Telly Savalas and Kirk Douglas were offered major cameos.
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Actor Omar Sharif was cast in this desert movie based on his well-known screen persona from having starred in David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia (1962), a classic desert picture. Sharif was originally going to play the Lawrence of Arabia (1962)-type role of desert-guide Malik (played by Kabir Bedi) but had to bow out. Instead, Sharif played the smaller role of Prince Hassan.
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The film was made and released about four years after its source novel "Ébano" by Alberto Vázquez Figueroa had been first published in 1975.
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The production shoot ran weeks over schedule with the film's budget blowing-out from $7.5 to $11 million.
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According to the "Citizen Caine" website review of the film, "Director [Richard] Fleischer...and co-star Beverly Johnson, not to mention several other key employees, were both unceremoniously sacked two-thirds of the way through the shoot once the studio got a look at the rushes." Moreover, Fleischer apparently also left the production after suffering sunstroke and requiring admission to hospital.
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Director Richard Fleischer and cinematographer Aldo Tonti previously worked together on Barabbas (1961).
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Scenes set in the Sahara Desert in North Africa were actually filmed in the Sinai Desert in Egypt.
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Richard Fleischer replaced Richard C. Sarafian, the film's original director, who dropped out of the production. Both of the film's directors were first named Richard.
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Heat was a major problem whilst shooting the picture with temperatures getting as high as 138 degrees Fahrenheit (= 59 degrees Celsius).
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This movie about modern slave-trading was developed, made and released right on the heels of Roots (1977), a popular high-rating television series about historical slavery.
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The picture was distributed by two studios, Warner Brothers and Columbia Pictures, Depending on the territory.
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One of a number of 1970s productions about slavery. They include: Roots (1977), Slavers (1978), Ashanti (1979), Drum (1976), Mandingo (1975) Huckleberry Finn (1974), Goodbye Uncle Tom (1971), Uncle Tom's Cabin (1976), A Woman Called Moses (1978), Roots: The Next Generations (1979), and The Fight Against Slavery (1975).
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Back-to-back consecutive appearances in an Africa-set theatrical feature film for actor Peter Ustinov who in the previous year had starred in Death on the Nile (1978),
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The film's opening prologue states: "Slavery still exists today. Thousands of people disappeared in Africa last year. This story is based on fact".
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The movie featured two actors who have played villains in the James Bond film franchise. Kabir Bedi was henchman Gobinda in Octopussy (1983) whilst Eric Pohlmann was the voice of Blofeld in From Russia with Love (1963).
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First theatrical feature film score composed by composer Michael Melvoin who previously had worked in television.
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About four years prior to this picture, the film's director Richard Fleischer directed another film about slavery called Mandingo (1975).
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Publicity for this picture stated that the United Nations had at the time the film was theatrically released a Special Committee on Slavery operating within the UN's Human Rights Division. Factual reports on slavery presented to the UN were a key source when author Alberto Vázquez Figueroa wrote this movie's source 1975 novel "Ebano".
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Actress Beverly Johnson, who plays Dr. Anansa Linderby, was pregnant during the making of this movie. Johnson's daughter, is named Anansa Sims, being first named after Johnson's character in this film.
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Apparently, the movie is actually allegedly based on a real true-life story.
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Some releases of the picture bore the subtitle "Land of No Mercy" after the film's "Ashanti" main title.
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The name of the medical body that the doctors Dr. David Linderby (Michael Caine) and Dr. Anansa Linderby (Beverly Johnson) worked for was the World Health Organization (WHO).
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Second of two collaborations of actors Omar Sharif and Michael Caine who had both worked together on James Clavell's The Last Valley (1971) about eight years earlier.
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The character Beverly Johnson played in the movie was Dr. Anansa Linderby. In real life, Beverly's daughter's name is Ananasa Sims.
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The new Blu-Ray and wide-screen double DVD release of the film includes a 27 minute interview with supermodel actress Beverly Johnson.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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