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The Black Tent (1956)

Not Rated | | Drama, War, Romance | July 1957 (USA)
In the African desert, a British soldier romances the native chief's daughter and helps the tribe fight off a Nazi attack.

Writers:

Robin Maugham (story), Robin Maugham (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Donald Sinden ... Col. Sir Charles Holland
Anthony Steel ... Capt. David Holland
Anna Maria Sandri ... Mabrouka ben Yussef
André Morell ... Sheik Salem ben Yussef (as Andre Morell)
Terence Sharkey Terence Sharkey ... Daoud Holland
Donald Pleasence ... Ali
Ralph Truman Ralph Truman ... Maj. Croft
Anthony Bushell ... Ambassador Baring
Michael Craig ... Sheik Faris
Paul Homer Paul Homer ... Khalil ben Yussef
Anton Diffring ... Senior Nazi Officer
Frederick Jaeger ... Koch - Junior Nazi Officer
Derek Sydney ... Interpreter
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Bryan Forbes ... Dying Soldier (scenes deleted)
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Storyline

In the African desert, a British soldier romances the native chief's daughter and helps the tribe fight off a Nazi attack.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | War | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

July 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Tenda Negra See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

The Rank Organisation See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Art Director George Provis had designed a pool for the nuptial bathing scene, the location oasis having only a small well. Producer William MacQuitty was aware that the pool would ever after be a useful water supply for the Bedouin and instructed that it be built sturdily for permanency. The village headman saw the producer's generosity differently--he saw the pool as desecrating the oasis and insisted that it be removed. It was, and the Sahara Desert regained 100 square meters of lost sand.

====NOTE: The following isn't a Trivia item as much as it is reminiscences from a member of the cast, but that person is never identified. He or she needs to be, otherwise there is no way to determine if this information is true or not.====

I had the good fortune to be involved in the filming. I was sixteen and had gone to Libya as a young actor for desert location scenes prior to shooting interiors at Pinewood Studios .

I recall that tragic circumstances made the off-camera events as memorable as those fly-blown Sahara shooting-days. A couple of days after my arrival at Idris airport the once-daily flight from London's Heathrow ended in tragedy when a BOAC DC4 Argonaut crashed in flames on landing killing fifteen and badly injuring many of the forty-seven on board. Idris facilities were about what you'd expect of one of the world's poorest nations with an international terminal that looked like it was the film set from Bogart's 'Casablanca' and the boys and girls at the Wheelus Field USAF base the other side of Tripoli had mobilized immediately, with helicopters ferrying the injured to the military hospital.

A few days later, at a break in the filming schedule, I visited the base with a young woman survivor of the crash.. Tearful eyes all round, including those of the chopper-boys, filled with laughter when Rosemarie discovered the bouquet they had given her was swarming with ants which had joined the blooms somewhere locally. An international incident was narrowly avoided when this naive British visitor took a photograph of his beautiful companion. I had not noticed that the background included some tents and several large aircraft. I still have the Zeiss camera which I had bought cheaply a couple of days before, just a museum piece now in our age of digital photography, but I always remember that day when I had to hand over the film to the fierce military policeman declaring us off-limits. Actually, he turned out to be quite an affable sort, who having executed his official task seemed more than happy to assist my companion who had discovered that the ants were now invading her blouse. Uncle Sam's Military Police are clearly up to anything the day throws at them and the Snowdrop produced some magic mosquito cream which he applied liberally to her neck. His enthusiasm for the task knew no bounds and soon it was the turn of the visitor gently, to point out what was off limits. Apart from the loss of my pictures, it was a memorable day with hospitable hosts, an air-conditioned day that offered a welcome contrast to the sweltering Sahara filming days that lay ahead. Happy days! All captured in Love, Life and Moving Pictures, tales of the Black Tent location. Find it at Amazon. See more »

Goofs

The road where the ambush takes place is clearly a post-war build, having asphalt and neat chicane. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Lawrence of Libya, or love among the ruins between Tobruk and El Alamein
3 November 2017 | by clanciaiSee all my reviews

Brian Desmond Hurst made many great films but was not much of a director. He often took care of immensely great and interesting stories with great action and fascinating intrigue and had a knack for getting outstanding music to them as well, but his films are annoyingly impersonal, as if he didn't care about the actors but just focused on getting it all done and the story told. This is one of those films, typical of him, telling a great story, featuring characters of considerable interest, but coming out with only a very conventional and almost expressionless product. He just couldn't dramatize.

There are many other assets to this film, though, like the photography with the epic and extremely romantic environment, the most romantic scenes taking place in the ruins of an ancient amphitheatre, the most spectacular part of the film, and dwelling long on a very comprehensive Libyan wedding among the bedouins. We don't have many films from Libya, this is from long before the days of Khadaffi and Isis and all that jazz, and what you are shown is a paradise among the bedouins in the shadow of the dramatic turnings of the second world war by Tobruk and El Alamein.

What especially lifts this film is the splendid music by William Alwyn adding another dimension of colours to the already resplendently colourful film, enhancing especially the romantic scenes with that extra touch which the actors and dialogue are not able to provide.

The script is by Bryan Forbes together with the author of the novel, Robin Maugham, and there is nothing wrong with the script, the saga being so humanly interesting as it is, but such a tale could have been made so much more of. It's the stuff of Lawrence of Arabia, Rudolf Valentino's sheiks and even of Charlton Heston's Moses in the desert.

Of course you come to think of Hurst's other films, like "Dangerous Moonlight" (with the Warsaw Concerto), "Simba" (of Mau-Mau in Kenya), the Malta Story with Alec Guinness, Hungry Hill and The Lion has Wings, and they all suffer from the same thing: great stories, but crippled by lack of flesh to the bones, as if the director thought the actors were of secondary importance to the epic.

Nevertheless, it's definitely worth giving a chance, for its exotic settings, its great story (with a surprisingly apt end), its splendidly coloured desert environments, its romance among the ruins, and its very vivid music, the most alive part of the film.


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