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Sands of the Kalahari (1965)

Approved | | Adventure, Crime, Drama | 2 December 1965 (UK)
After a small aircraft crashes in the Kalahari Desert, one of the seven passengers decides that his survival chances would increase if he would eliminate the other men in the group.


Cy Endfield


Cy Endfield (screenplay), William Mulvihill (novel)




Complete credited cast:
Stanley Baker ... Mike Bain
Stuart Whitman ... Brian O'Brien
Susannah York ... Grace Monckton
Harry Andrews ... Grimmelman
Theodore Bikel ... Dr. Bondarahkai
Nigel Davenport ... Sturdevant


A small airplane crashes in the sweltering deserts of southern Africa hundreds of miles from civilization. As parallels are drawn between the stranded group of seven passengers and a nearby pack of savage baboons, one of the men's survivalist nature gets the better of him, as he decides his chances of survival would be better if the other men were eliminated one-by-one. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The fantastic adventure of survival in the desert See more »


Adventure | Crime | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Sadly, most of the acting cast has passed away, leaving Stuart Whitman as the only surviving member--something his character Brian O'Brien strove to be in the film itself. (Stuart Whitman passed away on 16 March 2020, aged 92) See more »


The diamond area warning sign said "Trespasses will be prosecuted" not "Trespassers will be prosecuted". See more »


Brian O'Brien: I see, the gun makes the king, and the king gets the girl, huh?
Mike Bain: You've got a one-track mind O'Brien. Thank God the whole human race doesn't think like you.
See more »

Alternate Versions

When originally released theatrically in the UK, the BBFC made cuts to secure a 'A' rating. See more »


Referenced in Pitch Black (2000) See more »

User Reviews

Returning to the Primitive
22 April 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

I'm really gratified to find so many other reviewers having good memories of Sands of the Kalahari and feeling as put out as I do that it is not on VHS or DVD. Nor apparently has it been seen in America at least for some time.

This is a tale of survival, but the characters sure don't come out of Swiss Family Robinson. A small plane crashes in the Kalahari desert in South Africa. One woman, Susannah York, and five men. Only one of them Stuart Whitman who is a big game hunter is really trained for the business of survival. The others are products of the ease and comfort of civilization. One of them, Stanley Baker, is badly injured and needs constant nursing by York.

There's a colony of baboons nearby and Whitman starts identifying with them in every sense of the world. He turns on the others, eliminating them one by one except York who he decides will be his savage Eve to his savage Adam.

The injured Baker gradually heals and in the end proves to be the savior for York. I'm not going to say any more, but hopefully TCM or AMC will run this film at some point for American audiences.

Susannah York is beautiful and talented and goes through a gamut of emotions regarding Whitman and their predicament. Stanley Baker is a favorite of mine among British players, he never gave a bad performance in any film I ever saw him in. But the real treat is Whitman. His devolution of character out in that desert was Oscar caliber material and why he wasn't nominated in 1965 is a mystery.

If some American movie channel gets a hold of this film, do not miss it.

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Release Date:

2 December 1965 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Sands of the Kalahari See more »

Filming Locations:

Almería, Andalucía, Spain See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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