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Lion of the Desert

By Jeff Shannon

Destined to remain a dubious footnote in books of movie trivia, this occasionally impressive epic from 1981 was financed with a budget of $35 million by Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, who previously attempted the role of movie producer with the critically roasted Mohammad: Messenger of God. This effort didn't fare much better (it grossed approximately $1 million worldwide), and although some of its wartime action sequences are intelligently filmed, it's not likely to gain much more of a reputation on home video. Under a shaggy Muslim beard, Anthony Quinn stars as Omar Mukhtar, the Arab hero and guerilla fighter who defended Libya against Benito Mussolini and Italy's attempted conquests during World War II. As straightforward biography, the movie's got an admirable epic sweep, but a cliché-ridden script and uniformly bad performances (from a cast that includes John Gielgud, Oliver Reed, and Rod Steiger) make this little more than a curiosity for those wanting to learn more about Libyan history.

 

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated PGNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Moustapha Akkad

Stars: Anthony Quinn, Oliver Reed, Rod Steiger, John Gielgud, Irene Papas, Raf Vallone, Gastone Moschin

Released: October 22, 1981

Availability: DVD VHS


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