Zarak (1956)

Victor Mature, Michael Wilding, Anita Ekberg, Bonar Colleano,
Zarak is a movie starring Victor Mature, Michael Wilding, and Anita Ekberg. An Afghan Outlaw finally saves a British Officer at the cost of his own life.
  • 5.5 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Richard Maibaum, Writer:
  • Terence Young, Director:
  • Phil C. Samuel, Producer:

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8 / 10

To Sheik or Not to Sheik

In 1956 I was a twelve year old girl, going to the Saturday Matinée with my friends. The things I remember best about Zarak were the marvelous colors of the costumes, the romantic plot line and the desert fighting. It was both a Swash and a Buckle, and made even more exciting by its exotic location. Victor Mature was a bit long in the tooth, and probably could have played the father instead of the son, but he was still in good enough shape for my twelve year old heart to side with the errant lovers. Anita Ekburg didn't actually act much, but she was spectacular---in living color and almost in the costumes. In comparison to Victor Matures' be-robed macho, Michael Wilding seemed a bit of a stuffed shirt, leading most twelve year old girls to decide that Arabs were much sexier than Englishmen!

7 / 10

Whips up a full serving of entertainment

They don't make 'em like this anymore, and more's the pity. It's hokey, contrived, politically incorrect, and laced with clichés, but it blissfully transports one back to that innocent, popcorn-scented time in the balcony of the local Bijou when Technicolor images flickering across a silver screen could sweep one into a magical world of harem girls and charging horsemen.

Structurally, the film is a bit of a mess, stitching together a forbidden romance between star-crossed lovers, a stiff-upper-lip adventure about civilized British soldiers subduing pagan hordes, and a personal drama about the growing respect between two enemy combatants. While the plot is a mishmash, however, it's never dull, it moves along at a merry clip, and it fills the CinemaScope screen with lively, colorful, filmed-in-Morocco images.

Michael Wilding and Patrick McGoohan are properly British, Anita Ekberg never looked more glamorous, and Victor Mature was born to play just this sort of thing. Lean back, set your brain at "Idle," and enjoy!

(Incidentally, Victor Mature is flogged twice in this movie. The one which occurs in the first reel is especially vivid and it ranks 52nd on a list published in the book, "Lash! The Hundred Great Scenes of Men Being Whipped in the Movies.")

7 / 10

ganesha talkies

saw this movie at ganesha talkies in mysore,india(1957). was a big fan of victor mature those days.i think it was a big hit in india.in my opinion this movie was much better than the spielberg creations like(the raiders series).

6 / 10

ZARAK (Terence Young, 1956) **1/2

This desert-set adventure flick exemplifies the subtle difference between Hokum and Camp: recently, I had watched its star, Victor Mature, in THE VEILS OF BAGDAD (1953) ? spirited, tongue-in-cheek and generally exuding an air of unpretentious low-budget professionalism, it falls firmly into the former category; ZARAK, on the other hand, tries to be serious (with its religious/political undertones and calling into question familial/patriotic loyalties at times of stress) but is so relentlessly high-strung as to emerge a fount of virtually uninterrupted (but clearly unintended) hilarity!

These are too numerous to cite and most have, in any case already subsided in my memory, but I can't fail to mention Mature's irrepressible resourcefulness ? though very obviously doubled at times ? when aroused (including high-kicking his opponents and vigorously hacking away at a rope-bridge on which his arch-nemesis Michael Wilding is hanging for dear life), stoicism in the face of torture and impending death and, particularly, his wallowing in self-pity (and hysterically funny subsequent haunting) after unwittingly bludgeoning to death the current Mullah of the mosque ? who had actually interceded for Mature during a public flogging and does the same, much to the latter's evident chagrin, for the British Major at the aforementioned bridge sequence! That is not to say ZARAK is a bad film in the strict sense of the word: for one thing, there's plenty of action throughout (some of it actually borrowed from the classic Alexander Korda production of THE FOUR FEATHERS [1939]!) ? but, to be sure, the narrative is inordinately muddled for this type of film (not only in delineating the plot or the hero's motivations, but also by having such a prominent character as that of Bernard Miles vanish altogether halfway through)!

This was the second of six British-made actioners featuring Hollywood hunk Mature, filmed virtually back-to-back and after which his career would slowly grind to a stand-still; for the record, the others ? none of which I've watched ? were SAFARI (1956), INTERPOL (1957; also with co-star Anita Ekberg), THE LONG HAUL (1957), NO TIME TO DIE (1958) and the somewhat similar THE BANDIT OF ZHOBE (1959; actually directed by the co-story writer of this one, John Gilling). Sexy in scantily-clad attire, Ekberg even gets to perform a sultry exotic dance but is otherwise underused here; Wilding is as ineffectual playing the stiff-upper-lipped cavalry officer after Mature as the latter is wooden in Afghan tinge and garb(!), Miles appears as the star's one-eyed comic relief sidekick (at one point drooling over the heroine's writhing and to which he's vainly attempting to draw his brooding partner's attention), while Finlay Currie is ? what else? ? the earnest but ill-fated Holy Man. Apart from these, the supporting cast includes: Bonar Colleano (as one of Zarak's treacherous younger siblings), Frederick Valk (in his last role as his tyrannical father), Eunice Gayson (best-known for first eliciting the celebrated trademark response of "Bond, James Bond" ? in DR. NO [1962], of course ? is here Wilding's ingenuous bride) and Patrick McGoohan (youthful but already imposing in what is presumably his first sizeable part in a film as Wilding's aide). The behind-the-scenes credits are similarly notable ? several of whom would soon prove instrumental in cementing the 007 image into the public consciousness.

6 / 10

Big budgeted and spectacular adventure with plenty of fights , emotion , thrills and breathtaking battles

Adventure movie dealing with the violent rebellion in Afghanistan and well set in XIX Century . On the mountainous frontier between British India and Afghanistan, circa 1860s, Zarak Khan (Victor Mature) kisses Salma (Anita Ekberg who offers some erotic scenes while performs nimble dances and grossly suggestive costuming by showing the actress in one of her scanty gowns) , the youngest wife of his father. Outraged, Haji Khan - Zarak's Father (Frederick Valk) orders Zarak to be punished but spares his life at the urging of an elderly Mullah (Finlay Currie) . Zarak now leaves his land and becomes a notorious rebel against British empire , prompting the English to assign Major Ingram (Michael Wilding) to capture him. When Ingram is captured by Ahmad, one of Zarak's rivals, Zarak risks his life to save the British officer. But then things go wrong , but later he escapes from British Army . As Zarak Khan sends a threat : I have returned , I attack fort Abbott at dawn on the day after tomorrow. For the Harem Beauty...Mighty Zarak Fought Half a Continent!.Mightiest Of The Mighty! a sensation of excitement and thrills ! Pillage! Plunder! Passion! Today's reign of Terror in Afghanistan ! White Heat Explodes in Green Hell!

Adventure and moving drama/action movie with nice mood , it is a rich , robust and colorful picture , a hell-for-leather stuff . Exciting and thrilling picture set in Afghanistan in the turbulent late 19th century . It is a rousing , moving , stirring tale , but rough-edged fare . Dealing with interesting issues , such as imperialism , colonialism and racism . One of several lively , all-action , color de luxe adventures produced by Britain's Warwick films , in this production company usually played Robert Taylor , Alan Ladd and Victor Mature as stars in the late Fifties .Warwick was set up by Irving Allen and Albert R. Broccoli, and its main purpose was that it offered an European lifeline to fading Hollywood star . The plot is simple and light , brave Mature to lead Afghans on a rebellion against the British and their Fort Abbott : As Zarak joins forces another rebel chief and continuing up country closer and closer to rebel territory , they both get closer to achieving their aims . The film develops an intense and obstinate confrontation between Zarak/Victor Mature and Ingram/Michael Wilding both of whom have several violent encounters , though interweaving a grudging respect for each other . As the tension , intrigue and suspense maintain a real grip across . Along the way , the film reflects the way in which Afghanistan divided two communities , both Afghan and British with their forts , luxurious life , noisy balls .. . In "Zarak" anyway , neither White Men , nor Asian people are necessarily the heroes , but both of them share the guilt of the warring confrontation . In fact, the attitude of the colonials and the Afghans are both very partially portrayed , the reason for ¨Zarak¨ is more an adventure/action movie than a historical film .The usually wooden Mature plays an obstinate Afghan whose real goal is to vanquish the colonialist British . Mature became one of Hollywood's busiest and most popular actors after the war , though rarely was he given the critical respect he often deserved. These enjoyable films were all ordinarily played by Mature who was nearly at his most agile and deft style , as he starred various Adventure films and was superstar of Hollywood epics . His roles in John Ford's My darling Clementine (1946) and in Henry Hathaway's Kiss of the death (1947) were among his finest work, though he moved more and more frequently into more exotic roles in films like Samson y Delilah (1949) and Sinuhe, the Egyptian (1954) . Never an energetic actor nor one of great artistic pretensions, he nevertheless continued as a Hollywood stalwart both in programme and in more prominent films like The Robe (1953). More interested in golf than acting, his appearances diminished through the 1960s, but he made a stunning comeback of sorts in a hilarious romp as a very Victor Mature-like actor in Neil Simon's Zorro (1966). He eventually took over his activities and, after a cameo as Samson's father in a TV remake of his own "Samson and Delilah" (Sansón y Dalila (1984) , he retired for good . He is well accompanied as co-starring by the gorgeous Anita Ekberg , reportedly the producers cut much of Ekberg's erotic dances in the ending edition, and yet objections were still made of "spicy situations" , causing a huge fuss on England billboards . And excellent support cast, such as : Michael Wilding , Eunice Gayson, Finlay Currie , Bernard Miles , Eddie Byrne , André Morell and Patrick McGoohan.

The ambient of the country at the time is pretty well shown accompanied by an atmospheric and brilliant cinematography by John Wilcox , Cyril J. Knowles, Ted Moore . Being shot on various locations : Morocco, Tangier, Burma m Elstree Studios, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, England, UK. As well as thrilling musical score by William Alwyn and musical director by regular Muir Matheson. Being shot on location in Nairobi National Park, and Nairobi , Kenya . Lavishly produced by the notorious producers Irving Allen and the famous Albert R. Broccoli who subsequently to finance the successful James Bond series . The motion picture produced by Warwick along with Columbia Pictures was decently directed by Terence Young who directed some of the best Bond movies as Doctor No , From Russia with love and Thunderball .