Reviewed byWuchakVote: 8/10/10
Released in 1962, "Escape from Zahrain" is a survival-in-the-desertflick that takes place in the fictitious Arabian country of Zahrain.Yul Brynner plays Sheriff, a righteous Arab revolutionary, while SalMineo plays his young disciple who sets him free from captivity andcertain death. An Arab nurse (Madlyn Rhue), an embezzling oil worker(Jack Warden) and a mad Arab (Anthony Caruso) are also along for theride. Can they make it to a bordering nation and freedom or will theyall perish in the desert?
Although it's Grade B (and cartoony) in comparison to the way morepopular and sophisticated desert film "Lawrence of Arabia" (also from'62), "Escape to Zahrain" is actually more compelling, which isdifferent than saying it's better, it's not. It's just more immediatelysatisfying. Two other survival-in-the-desert films that "Zahrain"brings to mind are "Flight of the Phoenix" and "Sands of the Kalahari",both released in 1965. If you like those two films, you'll definitelylike this one. As great as they are "Zahrain" is as good or better.
There's some serious action at the beginning and end of the film, butthe heart of the picture is the long trek through the desert and theinterplay of the characters. Sheriff (Brynner) and Ahmed (Mineo) havehad it with the corrupt officials of Zahrain who rape the land with thetechnology of the Americans but then greedily keep the cash for theirown filthy rich lifestyles; meanwhile the citizenry wallows in povertyand ignorance. The nurse (Madlyn) was educated in Europe and doesn'tunderstand the reckless passion of the revolutionaries. She's againstthem because she's nursed the wounded & dying followers of Sheriff,mostly youths. The American, Huston (Warden), is viewed as part of theproblem by the revolutionaries, but they need him to escape andsurvive. And then you have the freakin' crazy Arab, Tahar (Caruso),also called "Frankenstein" or "Franky" by Huston. Is he friend or foe,or neither? Also on hand is a pleasant cameo by a major star from thattime period, but I don't want to give it away.
The film was shot in the Mojave Desert, California, but you'd hardlyknow as the filmmakers did a great job of giving the illusion that it'ssomewhere in the Middle East. My wife, for instance, guessed that itwas shot in Egypt.
At 93 minutes the film doesn't overstay its welcome.
FINAL WORD: Despite being a serious Grade B picture, "Escape fromZahrain" is Grade A in heart. The film is bookended by quality actionsequences, but its core is character-driven. You get to know thesecharacters as they trek through the sweltering desert. Their strengthsand weaknesses are revealed and you can't help but start to care forthem, just as they develop a sense of community amongst themselves.
Criminally underrated and unknown, "Escape to Zahrain" ranks with thebest desert films, Grade B though it is. It's also one of Yul's bestand the other principles. No kidding.
Reviewed bybkoganbingVote: 5/10/10
With an obligatory bow for a few political polemics regarding theMiddle East, Escape From Zahrain is essentially an action adventurefilm about the leader of a rebel faction being broken out of custodyand escaping from a Middle Eastern principality. Zahrain is a mythicalcountry along the lines of Muscat-Oman, Yemen, or Qatar or better stillthe more well known Kuwait. With the ruling class living fabulouslywealthy lives due to oil, most of the people are barely scratching outa living. In the next century a place like Zahrain would be a breedingground for terrorists.
Yul Brynner is the rebel leader and Sal Mineo is an idealistic studentwho leads a group that springs Brynner and a few others who are alongfor the ride. They include some common criminal types Anthony Carusoand Jay Novello and one unusual one in Jack Warden, formerly employedby the big oil cartel, but now in prison for embezzlement. Can't be toopleasant for him in a third world jail.
Losing the truck they escaped in, they hijack due to Warden anambulance belonging to the oil company and get driver Leonard Strongand nurse Madelyn Rhue as well. This then is the crew trying to EscapeFrom Zahrain.
The rulers want Brynner real bad and they're out in force for him.Probably the biggest manhunt in the history of the country.
In a recent biography of Sal Mineo, Mineo was pleased to be reunitedwith Brynner whom he had played on Broadway with in The King And I.Mineo took over the part of the crown prince during the run and Brynnerwas like a father to him in real life. Brynner was not an easy guy toknow or get along with, but apparently he and Mineo hit it off, veryfew did with this man who kept an air of mystery about him his entirelife.
Warden and Caruso are a pair of interesting characters. In contrast tothe idealistic Brynner and Mineo, these two are a pair of realists.Caruso is a real low life, but he does prove useful, but only when onekeeps an eye on him. Warden is a cynic in the Bogart tradition, butkind of comes around in the end even though all he wants to do is getout the whole middle east.
Escape From Zahrain moves at a pretty good clip. It doesn't let thepolitical polemics get too much in the way of the action.
Reviewed bymschaefer2005Vote: /10
I just discovered that there's a new book coming out by RichardMatheson. It's called "Unrealized Dreams: Three Scripts by RichardMatheson." It's being released by Gauntlet Press (you can find themonline.) The book features Richard Matheson's original screenplay for"Appointment in Zahrain." This film was originally to star ClarkeGable. Unfortunately, Gable died shortly after filming "The Misfits."Matheson's screenplay was never produced. Eventually, "Escape FromZahrain" was produced from Michael Barret's original novel,"Appointment in Zahrain." Too bad the film is unavailable for viewingon either VHS or DVD. I'd love to see this film.
During the 1960s, in a fictitious strife-ridden Arab nation, captured revolutionary nationalist leader Sharif is being transported to a prison for execution. The police van transporting him to the prison is attacked by Sharif's fanatical followers. Ahmed, the leader of the students' revolt frees Sharif along with three other prisoners. Among them is Huston, an American who has embezzled money from the Zahrain Oil Company. The fugitives capture an ambulance and its nurse, Laila. They flee from the city toward the border but during their trek across the desert, the convict Hassan is killed in a police ambush. A romance starts between Ahmed, the student leader and Laila, the ambulance nurse. Unfortunately, Ahmed is later killed by a government strafing fighter plane. Later, Tahar, another convict, is also killed.The three lone survivors are Laila, Sharif and Huston. Will they reach their destination?