The great Stanley Baker/Cy Endfield team that produced "Zulu" the year before, released this pic in 1965. Although similar to "Flight of the Phoenix" released
the same year (with an all-star cast and huge budget), this more modest film is, in
my opinion, much superior.
Stanley Baker was always one of my favorite actors. He had a noble bearing not unlike Lawrence Olivier although he was originally cast in working-class parts like
the lorry driver in the excellent "Hell Drivers" (incidentially featuring a cast of
future superstars). His death at the early age of 48 left a void in British cinema
that has never quite been filled.
The original releasing company was Paramount. The cast is terrific, including
Harry Andrews, Theodore Bikel, Nigel Davenport, and the late Susannah York. The
much underrated Stuart Whitman has never been better. I feel this is his finest role. I only wish the DVD had a commentary by Whitman, Bikel, and/or Davenport,
the only surviving actors from the film. When these folks are gone it's too late
and the only sources of first-hand memories are forever lost.
The music score is fantastic and is composed by the late great Johhny Dankworth.
It is stark, haunting, and totally suitable for this film unlike many of the mundane cookie-cutter scores in current flicks.
This is an unforgettable film suggesting a sense of time and place. You will not
see a film like this made now because it is really a low-key character study and
almost too cerebral for today's dumbed-down audiences. A keeper-don't miss it.