Post World War II: Five men, stuck out in the middle of nowhere, tending machinery in the desert. The heat. The wind-blown sand. The relentless, empty horizon. There’s already conflict simmering among them: German/English. Class divisions. New kid in town/old dog who rules with an iron fist. “It’s this place…we’ve been here too long…I don’t know what’s happening to me,” says one. Really, these guys don’t need any kind of aggravation to add to their lot.
Enter, in an out-of-control car that somehow materializes in the middle of the desert, Carroll Baker.
STATION-SIX SAHARA is a tough find. The only copy I’ve gotten, after yeeeeears of looking, is a second-generation VHS dupe that was taken from a scratchy print to begin with, marred by a badly flickering image (not ‘flag waving’ at the top of the frame but a stroboscopic fluttering), and a slow ‘roll bar’ effect repeatedly crawling up the screen. I’ve cleaned it up with filters on Virtualdub and Avidemux and managed to get rid of the flickering and the rolling as well as improving the contrast/black levels. While it’s still not great, it’s certainly a lot better than it was before.
Baker completists will surely be interested to see this (her only purpose in the story seems to be to boil up everyone’s testosterone – cue the completely inappropriate Sahara Desert wardrobe: black dress, towel, bra and short shorts, bathrobe) but it’s also a must-see for Denholm Elliott who gives a fine character performance here as an edgy ex-Major who was in the campaign at El Alamein. The film’s best scenes having him butting heads with non-com Ian Bannen, who delights in antagonising him. The scene in which Bannen sets up the major with a deal to buy an unopened letter had me chuckling like a loon all the way through it, and becomes a sort of running gag throughout the rest of the movie. The Major/Minor conflict is paired off against Peter van Eyck and Hansjorg Felmy, both playing Germans who similarly vie for control over each other (“What kind of German are you?”), which comes to a head in a high-stakes game of poker.
Let’s not pretend that we don’t know how these racked-up tensions are going to be resolved. At least one person has to get knocked off by the end, right? The question (and maybe surprise; at least it was for me) is who?
Director Seth Holt’s career didn’t extend beyond a few Hammer/Amicus productions, but the screenplay was by Bryan Forbes (who went on to direct lotsa great movies) AND Brian Clemens (who, among a ton of other movie and TV credits, was the main writer for THE AVENGERS in the 60s).