Saturday, April 23, 2011

Escape From Zahrain (1962)

I cannot find the words to describe how exhilarated I was to find another Yul Brynner movie I haven't seen. He is one of my very favorite actors of all time. That voice, that presence, those dark piercing eyes. I am heterosexual but if there is any man who could make me switch sides it would be Yul.

In this movie he plays Sharif, a political prisoner who is slated for a trial after four years in jail. He is kind of a legend with his people because he brings them hope - hope that they might one day no longer live under the boot heel of a repressive dictatorship. Sharif advocates for more freedoms and societal changes and only his personal popularity has any chance of making those changes occur.

To the leaders of the police state he is trying to reform, he is a threat. A public trial would not be advantageous to the regime. If they kill him they only create a martyr for the people to rally behind. It is decided that Sharif is to be killed and his body left in a nameless grave in the desert.

While being transported to a different prison, Sharif and several other men are rescued by students who support Sharif's political views about his country. During his escape, however, a disruption of the plans to get Sharif across the border are interrupted and he must now journey on foot through the desert of the fictional nation of Zahrain. His goal is to reach a neighboring country's borders where he will be safe and free to fight for his people once again.

This basically is a chase movie from beginning to end. At each step of the 'escape' Sharif and his companions have to adapted to changing conditions and use whatever resources they can find along the way to advance their progress.

Jack Warden plays an embezzler who was in the same prison as Sharif. Sal Mineo is Ahmed, a young idealistic student revolutionary who planned the whole escape route.

This movie tries to shoe horn in some political arguments about how the west exploits the people of Zahrain for their oil while viewing the Zahrain's people as second class citizens and ignorant savages.

Any moralizing, however, is just surface.

The lone female in the group played by Madlyn Rhue was also Lt. Marla McGivers in the famous 'Space Seed' episode (the one with Ricardo Montalban as Khan) from the original 'Star Trek' series. It bugged me for most of the film because I recognized her but just couldn't place where I had seen her before.

There was less action than I would have liked for a chase movie but I enjoyed it if only for the opportunity to watch Yul dominate the screen as he always did.



Unknown said...

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DrGoat said...

Wow. I thought I had seen all of Yul's movie. Thanks buddy.

Kal said...

I thought about going through Yul's filmography but I think I would prefer to be surprised when I come across one of his movies I hadn't seen. 'Ultimate Warrior', 'Morituri' (with a young Marlon Brando) and now this one were like that.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Yul Brynner certainly could exude smoldering masculine sexuality on the screen.

Kal said...

If he got to you then he can get to anyone. I freely admit to having a crush on him since I first saw the Ten Commandments.

Unknown said...

Never seen this film but it sounds like a great watch. : )

Pat Tillett said...

Never heard of it, but now I want to see it...