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CY ENDFIELD DIRECTS STANLEY BAKER IN 'SANDS OF THE KALAHARI'

Title: SANDS OF THE KALAHARI Year: 1965 Rating: ***

Supposedly this was the movie that pushed Stanley Baker — who'd just peaked with the same director Cy Endfield for ZULU — into a career downturn, and not just because SANDS OF THE KALAHARI is a deliberately strange and uncomfortable survival tale initially involving six passengers of a crashed plane stranded in the vast titular desert... 

As producer, Baker not only gave the best role to Stuart Whitman, but his own character's injured and therefore basically useless for most of the picture: one that features a somewhat convenient ensemble...

Stanley Baker and Susannah York in SANDS OF THE KALAHARI looking very Mysterious Island

Including veteran wildlife expert Harry Andrews, passive doctor Theodore Bikel, ingenue Susannah York and Nigel Davenport, who initially attempts raping York and then -- after the group finds refuge in a canyon/cavern area also inhabited by baboons -- he wanders off for help, becoming a sporadic standalone comic relief...

And overall he's hardly even necessary... In fact, despite otherwise talented actors Andrews and Bikel, the only people who matter are the great looking would-be love triangle despite all the passion belonging to Stuart Whitman's O'Brien and the wistfully one-dimensional York... and who can blame her? O'Brien's able to walk, run, has a gun, does the hunting, and isn't a bad sort until deciding to put Darwin's Theory to human use...

Stanley Baker in SANDS OF THE KALAHARI

Meanwhile first-billed Baker (who basically played Whitman's violently polarizing type in YESTERDAY'S ENEMY the previous decade), a consistent Cy Endfield collaborator since 1957's HELL DRIVERS, has the same amount of brawn, brains and good looks to potentially progress into a slow-burn hero against the sociopath alpha male — yet he merely blends into the cavemannish landscape, visually reminiscent of ZULU where he also portrayed a bridge-builder... 

Unfortunately, there's not much for an injured pacifist to do, making Whitman the film's only real purpose, and who the audience might not be rooting for, but with such a plodding run-time, they'll surely appreciate his determination and energy, nefarious or otherwise. 

Stanley Baker in SANDS OF THE KALAHARI with Stuart Whitman
SANDS OF THE KALAHARI with Stuart Whitman
Stanley Baker in SANDS OF THE KALAHARI with Susannah York
Theodore Bikel in SANDS OF THE KALAHARI with Stuart Whitman
Cast of SANDS OF THE KALAHARI
Stanley Baker in SANDS OF THE KALAHARI
SANDS OF THE KALAHARI with Susannah York
SANDS OF THE KALAHARI with Susannah York
Stanley Baker in SANDS OF THE KALAHARI with Theodore Bikel
SANDS OF THE KALAHARI with Susannah York
SANDS OF THE KALAHARI with Nigel Davenport and his nice ass
Stanley Baker in SANDS OF THE KALAHARI
Stanley Baker in SANDS OF THE KALAHARI
Stanley Baker in SANDS OF THE KALAHARI
SANDS OF THE KALAHARI with Susannah York
SANDS OF THE KALAHARI with Susannah York
Harry Andrews in SANDS OF THE KALAHARI with Stuart Whitman
Harry Andrews in SANDS OF THE KALAHARI
SANDS OF THE KALAHARI with Stuart Whitman
SANDS OF THE KALAHARI with Susannah York
Stanley Baker in SANDS OF THE KALAHARI
Stanley Baker in SANDS OF THE KALAHARI
Stanley Baker in SANDS OF THE KALAHARI
Stanley Baker in SANDS OF THE KALAHARI
Stanley Baker in SANDS OF THE KALAHARI with Susannah York

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