(director: Philip Leacock; screenwriters: bookBehind the Mask of Tutankhamen by Barry Wynne/teleplay by Herb Meadow; cinematographer: Bob Edwards; editor: Adrian Brenard ; music: Gil Melle; cast: Eva Marie Saint (Sarah Morrissey), Robin Ellis (Howard Carter), Raymond Burr (Jonash Sabastian), Harry Andrews (Lord George Carnarvon), Faith Brook (Carnarvon), Barbara Murray(Giovanna Antoniella), Wendy Hiller (Princess Vilma), Tom Baker(Hasan), John Palmer (Fishbait), Angharad Rees (Lady Evelyn Herbert), Darien Angadi (Ahmed Nahas), Andy Pantelidou (Lieutenant), Paul Scofield (Narrator); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Peter Graham Scott; Sony Pictures Entertainment; 1980-UK/USA)

“A film as dry as the Egyptian desert.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Philip Leacock (“High Tide At Noon”/”The Rabbit Trap”) flatly directs this TV movie that’s based on the novel Behind the Mask of Tutankhamen by Barry Wynne, with the teleplay by Herb Meadow. British archaeologist Howard Carter (Robin Ellis) has been in Egypt’s Valley of The Kings the last six years on a search to find the tomb of Tutankhamen. His financial sponsor is the collector Lord George Carnarvon (Harry Andrews), who in 1922 has the psychic Princess Vilma (Wendy Hiller) do a spooky seance at his castle and say that she sees everyone involved in the search for King Tut’s tomb doomed.

After digging up a medallion with a warning of a curse awaiting the grave robbers of Tut’s tomb and a gold medallion, Carter returns to England to see his benefactor. Lord George is about to terminate the project but changes his mind when a valued papyrus is stolen from his library that might have something to do with Tut’s tomb. On his return to the dig site, Carter again connects with his local foreman Hasan (Tom Baker) and continues the search. When a local orphan child named Fishbait (John Palmer) finds a pottery treasure from the tomb and he is able to tell Carter where he found it, he gets a job on the dig and excavation begins on that spot. The villain is the evil British treasure hunter Jonash Sabastian (Raymond Burr), who wears a turban. The criminal Giovanna Antoniella (Barbara Murray) is the papyrus thief who wishes to partner with Sabastian. But he offs her after getting possession of the papyrus and heads for Egypt to see if he can steal Tut’s gold mask. The American newswoman Sarah Morrissey (Eva Maria Saint) is following the dig and gets the scoop of the discovery.Ahmed Nahas (Darien Angadi) is the Egyptian official Sabastian bribes to get Carter removed from the dig. Paul Scofield is the narrator. He warns us the curse might or might not be real and then tells us some of the mysterious bad things that happened to the searchers. The result is a film as dry as the Egyptian desert and acting as dead as a mummy.