Sands of the Kalahari (1965)

Sands of the Kalahari (1965), directed by Cy Endfield.

It begins with a prelude in civilization: standing in line, being bored, but at least there's hot running water and bed linen. Then a charter flight, the engines clogged with clouds of locusts, crashes in the south African desert and we have a survival story which is sort of like Lord of the Flies (1963) with adults. The civilized veneer is pretty thin.

Young Susannah York has to fend off the amorous attentions of the pilot, but she has eyes only for Stuart Whitman, an American he-man with hunting rifles. He knows how to use them and starts taking "survival of the fittest" seriously. In the end it's him and the local baboon troop, battling for the position of alpha primate.

I've been waiting for decades to see this again and it just became available on DVD and Blu-ray. The baboon fighting special effects (puppets and some men in suits) are easier to see now than I remember. It's not quite as good as I recall.

It's still a well-done survival story of that sort where harsh nature is only half the battle: men are even more dangerous. There was another "plane crash desert survival" movie at about the same time, The Flight of the Phoenix (1965), and it has tended to overshadow this one. We have quite a bit of hunting and killing of animals: the men run down a wounded antelope and kill it with knives and rocks. People understand that this sort of thing happens in survival situations but they don't necessarily want to see it in the movies.

The only woman in the party is magnetically drawn to their lead predator. She has a conscience that protests, but biology is strong.

Available on Blu-ray, a bare-bones edition without subtitles. Netflix doesn't have it. I rented it from ClassicFlix.