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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
One of the best of Hulbert's pictures, and certainly the most extravagantly produced, this is 80 minutes of fun all the way. It's also a must for all Egyptologists and airplane buffs. Our only complaint: only two songs, but both of them beauties. A rousing march song: "Sons of the sand/We're brave and bold to a man/We rob and kill where we can/Along the trail of the caravan." And a wonderfully amusing song-and-dance in which Hulbert does some of the craziest jigs imaginable.
Whether double-taking his way out of embarrassing confrontations with Peter Gawthorne (the scene in which he distracts the colonel in order to recover the goatskin bag from a locked valise is a classic), or imperiling the heroine, unintentionally outwitting the villain, or simply spoofing Beau Geste, Hulbert is priceless. His unabashed cheekiness, his bravado (both real and mock), his romantic daring, endear him to every picturegoer who feels that the days of the meek, put-upon, Fate-tossed comedian are numbered. Hulbert makes his own fate. True, his stupidity is a hindrance to his ambitions, but at best he seems only half aware of any mental shortcomings. Certainly he doesn't let his shortage of brains stop him in his unwavering pursuit of both career and romantic success. And he can dance and sing too. Anna Lee makes an appealing, perkily resourceful heroine, Peter Gawthorne is his usual delightfully irascible authority figure, whilst Hartley Power does the honors as the welcoming heavy.
The locations are brilliantly utilized as backgrounds to the comedy. They include a wild car chase from the Great Pyramid to Cairo, a hectic lunch in the exotic gardens of Shepheard's Hotel, and a climactic chase and attack in the desert in which Hulbert, Lee and their dummies hold off the marauders from an abandoned fort.
Briskly directed and beautifully photographed, The Camels Are Coming is a model of movie craftsmanship. Odd that it was never released in the United States because just about all its main technicians were offered Hollywood contracts including director Tim Whelan (who had actually worked with Harold Lloyd), photographer Glen MacWilliams (who went to 20th Century-Fox), editor Fred Smith (who was signed to a 20-year contract with MGM), producer Robert Stevenson and writer Guy Bolton.
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