THE STEEL LADY
(director: E. A. Dupont; screenwriters: Richard Schayer/story by Aubrey Wisberg; cinematographer: Floyd Crosby; editor: Grant Whytock; music: Emil Newman/Arthur Lange; cast: John Dehner (Sid Barlowe), Rod Cameron (Mike Monahan), Tab Hunter (Bill Larson), Richard Erdman (Jim Evans), John Abbott (Mustafa el Melik), Frank Puglia (Sheik Taras), Christopher Dark (Ibrahim), Dick Rich (Gus Sanderson), Carmen D’Antonio (dancer); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Grant Whytock; UA; 1953)
“Crisply told desert action-packed adventure film.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Crisply told desert action-packed adventure film. Under the efficient direction of E. A. Dupont (“Vaudeville”/”Return to Treasure Island”) the adventure film delivers the required thrills.It’s based on a story by Aubrey Wisberg. Veteran writer Richard Schayer does a nice job keeping the melodrama explosive. It’s shot in majestic b/w. In the Sahara Desert four American wildcat oil field workers, the pilot/leader Mike Monahan (Rod Cameron), radioman Billy Larsen (Tab Hunter), mechanic Jim Evans (Richard Erdman) and surveyor Syd Barlow, explore new oil fields for the Trans-African oil company in Casablanca, run by Gus Sanderson (Dick Rich. A sandstorm forces their plane to crash-land in the remote desert. The plane is no longer operable, but all the men survive. Unfortunately the radio can only receive and not transmit. Trapped in the hostile region, Mike fortunately discovers hidden in a sand dune a German tank discarded by the retreating forces under Rommel in Septmber 1942. It’s named The Steel Lady. The men see no choice but to try and cross the desert in the tank until they reach a French outpost. This requires using up their water supply for the engine. Meanwhile the drunken Barlowe discovers in the tank’s inside compartment a bag of valuable jewels, and tells no one about his discovery. Along the desert trail the men are confronted by Bedouins, who draw them into their oasis in the belief that the Treasure of Calipha, stolen by German raiders, is probably in the tank. When Mike is made aware of the gems and the effort of Barlowe to steal them for himself, the situation with the initially friendly Arabs becomes deadly. Under the leadership of Mustafa el Melik (John Abbott), loyal to Sheik Taras (Frank Puglia), they attack the tank. It turns out the gems were stolen by the members of The Steel Lady from a rival of this sheik. Mike’s hope is to survive the battle with the Bedouins, have the repaired radio used to call for a rescue plane and to return the gems to the rightful sheik owner so he will grant them drilling rights on his land. Everything is solid about this low-budget B-actioner.
REVIEWED ON 9/27/2016 GRADE: B