Cairo Road (film)

Cairo Road is a 1950 British crime film directed by David MacDonald and stars Eric Portman, Laurence Harvey, Maria Mauban, Harold Lang and John Gregson. The film takes its name from the Cairo Road.[2][3]

Cairo Road
Directed byDavid MacDonald
Produced byAubrey Baring
Maxwell Setton
Written byRobert Westerby
  • Eric Portman
  • Laurence Harvey
  • Maria Mauban
  • Harold Lang
Music byRobert Gill
Distributed byAssociated British-Pathé (UK)
Release date
  • 21 May 1950 (1950-05-21)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office₤145,502 (UK)[1]


A team of Egyptian anti-narcotic agents led by Colonel Youssef Bey (Eric Portman), the chief of the Anti-Narcotic Bureau, and his new assistant Lieutenant Mourad (Laurence Harvey), recently relocated from Paris with his wife Marie (Maria Mauban), try to prevent shipments of drugs crossing the southern Egyptian border. They are constantly on alert as even camel caravans are suspect in smuggling narcotics.

The agents are investigating the murder of a rich Arab businessman named Bashiri. Raiding a berthed ship in the harbour of Port Saïd leads them to the trail of heroin smugglers, including Rico Pavlis (Harold Lang) and Lombardi (Grégoire Aslan). One of the police agents, Anna Michelis (Camelia),is targeted by the smugglers.

Eventually Pavlis turns on his partner, killing Lombardi, but Youssef sets a trap for the Pavlis brothers, and the capture of the two remaining criminal gang leaders and their men, proves the police are competent at stemming the flow of narcotics.



The film was based on real cases worked on by the Egyptian police. Producer Maxwell Setton had been born in Cairo.[4] It was originally known as Poison Road and was made with the co-operation of the Egyptian government.[5]

The production was centred around Egypt where principal photography took place, and its cast included Egyptian film star Camelia, who died in 1950 in an aircraft crash.[6]


Cairo Road received a reasonably positive review from The New York Times, who called it an "... unpretentious and consistently sensible little film... antidote. British restraint and taste not only have saved the day but succeeded in dignifying a battered subject... this routine picture has some sterling ingredients."[7]

The critic from Variety said "action moves slowly in the first half and much of the story is veiled so as to obscure the plot. However, it winds up with a meaty climax."[8]

In a recent review by Trevor Johnston, Time Out noted, Cairo Road was, "... a workaday thriller, whose makers actually took the rouble to go to Cairo and Port Said to shoot it. Twenty-something Harvey makes an early appearance as Inspector Portman's bumbling, keen-as-mustard assistant."[9]



  1. Porter, Vincent. "The Robert Clark Account." Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol. 20, No. 4, 2000, p. 493.
  2. "Review: 'Cairo Road' (1950)." IMDb. Retrieved: 27 August 2016.
  3. "Review: 'Cairo Road' (1950)." British Film Institute. Retrieved: 27 August 2016.
  4. Harper, Sue; Porter, Vincent (2003). British Cinema of the 1950s: The Decline of Deference. Oxford University Press. pp. 178–180. ISBN 9780198159346.
  5. Nepean, E. (1950, Mar 04). Round the british studios. Picture show, 54, 7. Retrieved from
  6. "Highlights in brief of News of the world." The Barrier Miner, 5 September 1950., page 3. Retrieved: 17 July 2012.
  7. Thompson, Howard (H.H.T.) "Movie review: 'Anti-Narcotics operations shown at Globe." The New York Times, 1 November 1952. Retrieved: 27 August 2016.
  8. "Review: Cairo Road'." = Variety. Retrieved: 27 August 2016.
  9. Pym 2004, p. 174.


  • Pym, John, ed. Time Out Film Guide. London: Penguin Group, 2004. ISBN 978-0-1410-1354-1.
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