|These aren't Bette Davis eyes.|
|Susannah York as the lone female.|
A passenger called Sturdevan (Nigel Davenport) emerges as the group's leader. He guides the others to a mountainous area with drinkable water, melons for food, and caves for protection. There is also a congress of baboons (yes, I looked that up) nearby, but the monkeys with the scary-looking teeth only express curiosity about their new neighbors. When Sturdevan leaves the group to seek out help, O'Brien (Stuart Whitman) assumes his role. He heartlessly kills the baboons, explaining that they are the group's competitors for food. However, it gradually becomes clear that O'Brien is an extreme survivalist who wants to get rid of more than just the baboons.
|Baboons have sharp teeth!|
In a film with a small ensemble cast, well-drawn characters and strong performances can make all the difference. Fortunately, Sands of the Kalahari features solid veteran British performers such as Stanley Baker, Harry Andrews, Susannah York, and Davenport. They bring their characters to life even though writer-director Cy Endfield fails to flesh their parts out as as skillfully as the survivors in The Flight of the Phoenix.
|Director Enfield's numerous overhead shots suggest the baboons|
are watching the humans.
|Stuart Whitman as O'Brien.|
I'm not surprised that Sands of the Kalahari was a boxoffice failure. The plot borders on grim and brutal at times and it lacks the feel-good ending of Flight of the Phoenix. However, it's a fascinating film that keeps viewers continually guessing what's going to happen next. And when the baboons finally make their presence known in the film's climax, let's just say that it's a confrontation that you won't soon forget.