Zarak Khan (Victor Mature) is the son of a chief, who is caught embracing one of his father's wives Salma (Anita Ekberg). Zarak's father sentenced both to torture and death but they are saved by an Imam (Finlay Currie). The exiled Zarak becomes a bandit chief and an enemy of the British Empire.Victor Mature as Zarak Khan
Michael Wilding as Maj. Michael Ingram
Anita Ekberg as Salma
Bonar Colleano as Biri (Zarak's brother)
Eunice Gayson as Cathy Ingram
Finlay Currie as The Mullah
Peter Illing as Ahmad
Bernard Miles as Hassu the one-eyed
Eddie Byrne as Kasim - Zarak's brother
Patrick McGoohan as Moor Larkin
Frederick Valk as Haji Khan (Zarak's father)
André Morell as Maj. Atherton
Harold Goodwin as Sgt. Higgins
Alec Mango as Akbar (merchant)
Oscar Quitak as Youssuff
The film is based on a 1950 book, written by A.J. Bevan, which contained a foreword by Field Marshal William Slim. According to Bevan, the real Zarak Khan was an Afghan who spent most of his life fighting the British in the northwest frontier in the 1920s and 1930s. Among his crimes was the murder of a holy man. He eventually gave himself up and was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Andaman Islands. However, when the Japanese occupied the islands he stayed in his cell.
Khan was eventually given a suspended sentence and decided to work for the British in Burma. In 1943 he was leading a patrol when its British officer was killed in an ambush. He watched another British patrol be attacked by the Japanese and sent messengers to summon a Gurkha force. To stop the Japanese from escaping with their prisoners before the Gurkhas arrived, he attacked them single-handed, and killed or wounded six soldiers before being overpowered. He refused to be beheaded and insisted on being flayed alive to buy time to enable the Gurkhas to arrive.
Warwick Films bought the film rights in 1953. Producer Irving Allen said he was more interested in the character of Zarak Khan than the events described in the book. He was contemplating changing Khan's nationality in order to offer the role to Errol Flynn. Eventually Allen decided to make a fictional account set in the 19th century. Regular Warwick writer Richard Maibaum was assigned the job of writing the script.
The movie starred Victor Mature, who had signed a two-picture deal with Warwick. He made the film after making Safari for the company.
Filming started in Morocco on 1 November 1955 with Yakima Canutt in charge of the second unit. Victor Mature joined the production on 19 November.
Ted Moore, who handled some of the Technicolor/CinemaScope photography, later performed similar work on the early James Bond films, and art director John Box and costume designer Phyllis Dalton later won Oscars for their work on Doctor Zhivago. Richard Maibaum, who adapted A. J. Bevan's novel, went on to adapt such Ian Fleming novels as Dr. No, From Russia, with Love, and Goldfinger. Similarly, the director, Terence Young and co-producer, Albert R. Broccoli went on to create the Bond movies.
Stuntman Bob Simmons, who performed and doubled several stars in the film, noted that Victor Mature refused to ride a horse. When his stunt double Jack Keely was killed in a horse accident on the set, Mature insisted on personally paying for his funeral.
Patrick McGoohan portrays Moor Larkin, an adjutant to Michael Wilding's character who has a penchant for billiards, as well as offering sensible, albeit ignored, advice. This role was commented on in the British cinema magazine, Picturegoer. The critic Margaret Hinxman made Patrick McGoohan her "Talent Spot". She assured readers that this new face would be "really something", given a "half-decent" part. She completely slated the film, however, describing it as "absurd".
The popular chanteuse Yana sang her hit song Climb Up the Wall in the film.
Studio work was done at Elstree.
The original film poster was criticised by the House of Lords for "bordering on the obscene" and banned in the United Kingdom.
The action sequences reappeared in John Gilling's The Bandit of Zhobe (1958) and The Brigand of Kandahar (1965).Climb Up the Wall
Music by Auyar Hosseini
Lyrics by Norman Gimbel
Sung by Yana