Based on a novel by William Mulvihill, the set-up is familiar: a motley group of travelers inconvenienced by a cancelled flight are persuaded to charter an independent plane to their African destination rather than wait, only to have it collide with a cloud of locusts over the Kalahari desert, stranding them with only enough water to support a single man for half a day.
Stanley Baker, being mostly cave-bound and brooding into crackling fires ("This is what men used to do before television," Bikel notes), doesn't challenge either of these virile competitors for York's hand, as it were. In his own way, he loathes the same weakness in her that the other men have seen, but he sees it from another perspective and experiences it in his own unique way. As Whitman goes off the rails and begins killing the other males to preserve for himself a greater share of dwindling rations, Baker discovers the hard way that York's need to claim the fittest for her own outbids all morality and any responsibility to the others. One imagines Mulvihill's novel might offer more background about her character to help underpin the decisions she makes; in context, the lack of such background and contrast unfortunately suggest her selfish choices as archetypically female.
Handsomely photographed by Edwin Hillier (THE VALLEY OF GWANGI) in rocky desert locations settings that now aptly recall PLANET OF THE APES (1968), SANDS OF THE KALAHARI is presented here anamorphically in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The standard disc version I screened looks good on the home screen, despite some visible limitations related to age which may be somewhat bolstered by the Blu-ray. One fault that Blu-ray can't correct is that Olive Films' transfer neglects to add day-for-night tinting to a couple of broad daylight sequences clearly tagged by the dialogue for taking place at night.