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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sinister Sanders Is Egypt Bound


The Asphalt Jungle Remade As Cairo (1963)

George Sanders is "The Major," in Egypt to mastermind a heist of King Tut jewels from the Cairo Museum. This was straight-up remaking of The Asphalt Jungle by MGM British Studios Ltd., so-called (by them) "The Best Studio In Europe," and it probably was, based on two new sound stages added as of May 1962. Metro shot their own stuff here and rented space besides, their British arm being an almost equal to grounds back in Culver, USA. Potential for worldwide grossing made Cairo seem viable. Its source yarn was evergreen: The Asphalt Jungle could be updated or done period (as in 1958 western The Badlanders) --- it was among most useful properties MGM owned. Even bad filmmakers would have had trouble mucking up a story this good. Cairo reunited the producer/director/star team from recent sleeper hit Village Of The Damned, to wit Ronald Kinnoch, Wolf Rilla, and Sanders.


Variety announced that Cairo would be "the first international film to be made in the English language in the Egyptian city." There was full cooperation from the United Arab Republic (imagine that being accomplished today), though "all assignments in pix shot in (the) country must be approved by the Egyptian government." Location shooting is a boost, the Cairo crew filming at street bazaars, among pyramids, sinister market places; the pic is more than worthwhile just for access to sights not before captured by major studio cameras. Variety gave Cairo a harsh review; seeming not to realize this was an Asphalt Jungle remake, they knocked Sanders' part for being a copy of Sam Jaffe in the "13 years ago" film ("the device of having lechery serve as the undoing of this character is hackneyed"). Cairo currently plays on TCM in full-frame where it should, of course, be 1.85. Hopefully, a Warner Archive release to come will sort that out and give us an upgraded presentation.

1 Comments:

Blogger Muscato said...

Wow! As a fan of Egyptian cinema, I'm ashamed to say i didn't know that the great star Faten Hamama ever appeared in a Western film. She's a marvelous actress (and a former Mrs. Omar Sharif - they made a number of pictures together). Still alive and, when last I saw her interviewed a few years ago, well.

6:57 AM  

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