Hotel Sahara
Directed byKen Annakin
Written byGeorge Hambley Brown
Patrick Kirwan
Produced byGeorge Hambley Brown
StarringYvonne De Carlo
Peter Ustinov
David Tomlinson
Roland Culver
CinematographyDavid Harcourt
Jack Hildyard
Edited byAlfred Roome
Music byBenjamin Frankel
Distributed byGeneral Film Distributors (UK)
United Artists (US)
Release date
9 July 1951
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

Hotel Sahara is a 1951 British war comedy film directed by Ken Annakin and starring Yvonne De Carlo, Peter Ustinov and David Tomlinson. It was produced and co-written by George Hambley Brown.


The Hotel Sahara, situated in a desert oasis, quickly empties when the patrons learn that Italian Army has commenced hostilities in the North African Campaign. Emad, the hotel's owner, also wants to flee, but is persuaded by his fiancee, Yasmin, to stay and try to save the hotel, all he owns. The other two members of the staff also stay: Yasmin's mother, Madame Pallas, and Yusef, the major domo.

The Italians take over the hotel, and Capitano Alberto Giuseppi is soon captivated by Yasmin's charms. His orderly is attracted to Madame Pallas. Later, however, the Italian Army suffers a defeat, and the small detachment is ordered to destroy any structures that may aid the enemy – including the hotel – and retreat. Emad sabotages their truck to distract them and disconnects their demolition charges just in time to save the hotel. Yusef fires into the air to speed the Italians on their way.

Next to arrive are the British. Major Randall and Captain Cheynie both vie for Yasmin's attention, while Madame Pallas flirts with the enlisted men. Randall's assignment is to recruit the Arabs to work for the British. Emad informs the major that they prefer goods, rather than money, so he sends Cheynie and Private Binns back to requisition supplies. He also orders a dozen nylons, though Cheynie lies about not being able to find any. Randall finds out when Yasmin shows off Cheynie's gift. Emad agrees to arrange a conference with the Arabs, if only to get the British to leave; Randall sends Cheynie with Emad.

While they are gone, about a dozen Germans drive up, forcing the outnumbered British to hastily leave, Randall in his bathing suit. Leutnant Gunther von Heilicke requisitions the hotel, but is (initially) immune to Yasmin's charms. He sets off Randall's booby trap, but emerges unscathed. Emad and Cheynie return to the hotel on camels, accompanied by the Arabs. Cheynie is dressed in native garb. Von Heilicke has the Arabs stay for a feast, then insists on being introduced to the sheiks. Before he gets to Cheynie, Yasmin provides a distraction, dressing up in the departed Fatima's costume and performing a belly dance. Cheynie sneaks away and rejoins Randall.

The Germans in turn depart after they sight a large column approaching. This time, it is the French. They bring welcome news: the war is nearly over. The Germans and the British lurk in the vicinity. Then both the German leutnant and the British major come up with the same idea, to disguise themselves as Arabs (Cheynie as a veiled woman) and reconnoiter, but by the time they arrive, the French have already gone. When the three men discover each other, they start shooting. Von Heilicke flees, after running out of bullets, chased by the other two. Just when it seems it is all over, Emad and Yasmin hear an American voice.




It was the first movie from Tower Films, the new production company of producer George Brown.[1]

Hotel Sahara was based on an idea of Brown's. He had a chat in a Fleet Street pub about a hotel in the Western Desert Campaign which kept changing sides, and he arranged for a script to be written. It took him five months to secure a distribution guarantee, sell the idea to the National Film Finance Corporation to get some finance, fix studio space and facilities, raise private finance to complete funding, and to secure the star he wanted Yvonne de Carlo from Hollywood.[2]

He eventually got De Carlo by writing her and saying that he observed that she had a flair to play comedy.[3][4][5]

George Hambley Brown knew Peter Ustinov from their time together in the RAF Film Unit during World War II. After the war the two co-produced School for Secrets and Vice Versa.


De Carlo arrived in London in December 1950 and filming started in January 1951. It was shot at Pinewood Studios with sets designed by the art director Ralph W. Brinton.[6] There was also soe location filming in Egypt.[7]

De Carlo sang some songs, "I Love a Man" and "Say Goodbye". It was the first time she had sung on film.[8]

Scene of de Carlo dancing had to be censored for the US cut of the film.[9]


The film was popular in England.[10]

De Carlo wanted to make more films with Brown and Ustinov, including one about a matador[11] but it did not happen.


See also


  1. ^ "Postponement of Cup Ballot". Kalgoorlie Miner. Vol. 56, no. 15, 793. Western Australia. 17 October 1950. p. 2. Retrieved 5 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  2. ^ NOTED ON THE LONDON SCREEN SCENE: Coming Up New Phase Independent By STEPHEN WATTS LONDON.. New York Times 8 July 1951: 69.
  3. ^ Vallance, Tom George H. Brown Obituary The Independent 9 January 2001
  4. ^ "PRODUCER HAS HIS TROUBLES". Truth. No. 3169. Sydney. 22 October 1950. p. 44. Retrieved 5 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ "The British make a comedy of life among the sand dunes. A FILM PREVIEW". The Argus. No. 33, 021. Melbourne. 4 July 1952. p. 7 (The Argus Magazine). Retrieved 5 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ "Fruitless Search". Weekly Times. No. 4254. Victoria, Australia. 3 January 1951. p. 36. Retrieved 5 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ "FILM PREVIEW "THE MOST BEAUTIFUL [?]IRL IN THE WORLD"". The Argus. No. 32, 866. Melbourne. 4 January 1952. p. 8 (The Argus Magazine). Retrieved 5 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ It Takes Two Players To Handle Granger Role By Hedda Hopper. The Washington Post 26 Feb 1951: 8.
  9. ^ "Inside HOLLYWOOD". Brisbane Telegraph (LAST RACE ed.). 3 March 1951. p. 19. Retrieved 5 November 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  10. ^ Drama: Yvonne De Carlo Named for British 'Sheba;' Find From 'Guys and Dolls' Set Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 21 Sep 1951: B9.
  11. ^ Yvonne De Carlo Pins Hopes for Future on Switch to Dramatic and Singing Roles SCHEUER, PHILIP K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]27 May 1951: D1.