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Rope of Sand (1949)

„Rope of Sand“ is a 1949 adventure-suspense film noir directed by William Dieterle from a story and screenplay by Walter Doniger.

Paul G. Vogel is the brutal police commandant at Diamanstad in South Africa, where the police of the desert work for the Colonial Diamond Co., and are commissioned to track down thieving employees attempting to escape through the sand dunes. The return of American game hunter Mike Davis, after a two-year absence, infuriates Vogel, who savagely takes out his hostility on John, a black dock worker, and Mike comes to John's aid. Vogel reports Mike's return to Arthur Martingale, and the devious, wealthy manager of Colonial.

Later that night, Suzanne Renaud, a beautiful nightclub dancer, attempts to seduce Martingale, who instead hires her to seduce Mike and determine the location of his secret diamond cache.

At a seedy café, Mike is approached by Toady, an opportunist who believes that Mike has returned to collect the diamonds that Vogel once tried to torture him into giving up. Suzanne also approaches Mike, but he sees through her cheap manners and snubs her. Vogel, however, is smitten by Suzanne, and becomes enraged when Mike insults her. Instead of fighting, the rivals compete in a poker game, and Vogel wins by cheating. Suzanne goes home with Vogel, but is repulsed by his ruthless acquisitive nature. Mike then breaks into Vogel's house and recovers his money as well as Suzanne, thereby beating Vogel at his own game.

On the drive back to Diamanstad, Mike succumbs to Suzanne's charm, and recalls the source of his old feud with Vogel. Mike has now returned for his diamonds, and Suzanne, who has fallen in love with Mike, is unable to talk him out of it.

Using information from his alcoholic friend, Dr. Francis „Doc“ Hunter, Mike later befriends Thompson, a disgruntled Colonial guard, and secretly plans for Thompson to take him into the prohibited area. Vogel arrests Mike and brutalizes him, until Martingale orders his release. Vogel complies.

Mike convalesces for as long as his patience allows, then leaves and ambushes Vogel. During their struggle, Vogel accidentally shoots his own guard. Mike takes Vogel hostage to pass the police check point, then dumps him in a sandstorm. Mike digs up his diamonds and drives across the border into Angola, while Vogel struggles back to Diamanstad. Enraged by his defeat, Vogel accidentally kills Hunter while arresting him, and covers up his blunder by arresting Suzanne for Hunter's murder.

In Angola, Mike learns of Suzanne's plight from Toady, and finally takes up Toady's offer of assistance. Mike returns to Diamanstad and confronts Martingale, offering to trade the diamonds for Suzanne. Martingale is amused by the thought of thwarting Vogel, while at the same time appearing the „hero“ to his company. At Martingale's office, Mike forces Vogel to sign a statement claiming Suzanne's innocence, and Vogel realizes too late that this implicates him as Hunter's killer. The duplicitous Martingale helps Vogel defend himself, but warns Mike, who then kills Vogel as Martingale had hoped. Later, when Mike learns that Suzanne tried to save his life, he pledges his love to her. Before their boat leaves the dock, Martingale gives Mike three of his diamonds as a gift, and Mike bestows one upon John, who has become a steadfast friend, and one to Toady as thanks.

A 1949 American adventure-suspense action crime film-noir directed by William Dieterle, produced by Hal Wallis, written by Walter Doniger, additional dialogue byJohn Paxton, cinematography by Charles Lang, starring Burt Lancaster, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, Sam Jaffe, John Bromfield, Mike Mazurki, Kenny Washington, Edmund Breon, Hayden Rorke, David Thursby, Josef Marais, and Miranda Marais. Debut screen appearance of Corinne Calvet. Edith Head was the costumer.

Hal Wallis and screenwriter of „Rope of Sand“ saw it as a re-teaming of Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart. The producer of „Casablanca“ did not get the stars but managed to recruit supporting players Claude Rains, Paul Henried, and Peter Lorre.

Film critic Glenn Erickson reflected on the background of the film, and how it was received when first released: „A polished production on all technical levels, the gritty Rope of Sand was filmed from a screenplay purchased by producer Wallis specifically for Burt Lancaster in 1947. Although William Dieterle's direction is capable, the script works too hard to introduce an overly familiar collection of stock thriller types... Critics generally liked Lancaster's performance, even if they slighted the work of Claude Rains and Peter Lorre, and saved the bulk of their praise for Paul Henried's nasty villain. Lancaster's own assessment of the film was unprintable, but he was quoted at a time when he was itching to move on to more interesting roles.“

Burt Lancaster said, „When I think of my least favorite [picture), I think of „Rope of Sand.“ I did that thing under great duress. I hated it.“


  • Burt Lancaster – Mike Davis
  • Paul Henreid – Commandant Paul G. Vogel
  • Claude Rains – Arthur Martingale
  • Peter Lorre – Toady
  • Corinne Calvet – Suzanne Renaud
  • Sam Jaffe – Dr. Francis Hunter
  • John Bromfield – Thompson
  • Mike Mazurki – Pierson
  • Kenny Washington – John
  • Edmund Breon – Chairman
  • Hayden Rorke – Ingram
  • David Thursby – Henry
  • Josef Marais – Specialty Singer
  • Miranda Marais – Specialty Singer

„Blutige Diamanten“ (Rope of Sand) ist ein Abenteuerfilm aus dem Jahr 1949 unter der Regie von William Dieterle nach einer Geschichte und einem Drehbuch von Walter Doniger.

Paul G. Vogel ist der brutale Polizeikommandant in Diamanstad in Südafrika, wo die Wüstenpolizei für die Colonial Diamond Co. arbeitet und den Auftrag hat, diebische Angestellte aufzuspüren, die versuchen, durch die Sanddünen zu entkommen. Die Rückkehr des amerikanischen Jägers Mike Davis nach zweijähriger Abwesenheit macht Vogel wütend, der seine Feindseligkeit an John, einem schwarzen Hafenarbeiter, auslässt, und Mike kommt John zu Hilfe. Vogel meldet Mikes Rückkehr an Arthur Martingale, den hinterhältigen, wohlhabenden Manager von Colonial.