Timbuktu is a 1959 American black-and-white adventure film set in Timbuktu (Africa) but filmed in the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Kanab, Utah. It was directed by Jacques Tourneur in 1958.
In 1940, France is at war with Germany. The French have removed large numbers of troops from their African possessions, leaving the way open for revolt. American soldier of fortune Mike Conway (Victor Mature) sees a chance to pay his way back to the United States by gunrunning to hostile Tuaregs.
Wearing a slouch hat and bush jacket, Conway is armed with a Thompson sub machine gun and a wristwatch with an alarm engraved "From Conway to Conway". He finds himself walking a razor's edge between an anti-French Tuareg leader (John Dehner) keen for Conway's supply of weapons but keener to use his tarantulas on his prisoners, a moderate Imam (Leonard Mudie) wanting peace, the local French Foreign Legion commander (George Dolenz), and the commander's attractive wife (Yvonne de Carlo) who Conway cannot keep away from.
The film was originally meant to be shot on location in colour and widescreen based on an idea of Small and Frank Cavett with Stuart Heisler to direct. Later, there was a script done by Horace McCoy. At one stage, the film was going to be made by the team of Clarence Greene and Russell Rouse, who were making films for Small.
In 1956 producer Edward Small registered several titles for the film, including: East of Timbuktu, West of Timbuktu, North of Timbuktu, South of Timbuktu (a technique of titling films that William Witney described as "boxing the compass"), The Road to Timbuktu, and Timbuktu Theme. However, he eventually settled on the plain title Timbuktu. In 1957, Anthony Veillier signed to write a script.
Mature signed in February 1958. Filming started May 1958 in Kanah Utah.
Director Jacques Tourneur claimed that producer Small thought the film was not long enough so he inserted reaction shots of close-ups of various actors all throughout the film.
Edward Small felt so embarrassed by the film that he removed his name from the final credits.Victor Mature as Mike Conway
Yvonne De Carlo as Natalie Dufort
George Dolenz as Colonel Charles Dufort
John Dehner as Emir Bhaki aka The Lion of the Desert
Marcia Henderson as Jeanne Marat
Robert Clarke as Captain Girard
Paul Wexler as Suleyman
James Foxx as Lt. Victor Marat
Turkish actor Feridun Çölgeçen was credited as technical adviser. Fred Carson acted as both stuntman and Victor Mature's stand-in.