The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, December 2-8

sands of the kalahari

Sands of the Kalahari (1965)
Directed by Cy Endfield
Endfield’s blacklisting doesn’t make an overt appearance in his more popular films. His B-sides, however, seethe nakedly at the dog-eat-dog world he’d escaped when he left Hollywood for England. Sands of the Kalahari was his follow-up to the hugely successful Zulu, and it’s more quiet, vicious and despairing. A plane crash strands strangers in the desert, Endfield favourite Stanley Baker among them. The question isn’t whether they’ll turn on each other but if they’ll do so before a tribe of bloodthirsty baboons get to them. Endfield spares his heroes nothing, his widescreen photography of the arid desert as great a taunt as the lack of food or the menacing primates lurking just around the corner. Sands of the Kalahari unsurprisingly casts lone American and human moray Stuart Whitman as the agent of destruction for the survivors, who need little help falling to pieces. The director, stung by persecution, finds that when prodded and deprived of comfort, humans revert to a feral disregard for their own; even the baboons hunt together. People are alone among species in their cannibalistic individualism. Scout Tafoya (December 3, 9:15pm; December 5, 4:30pm at Anthology Film Archives’s Endfield series)

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