Rope of Sand

Rope of Sand is a 1949 adventure-suspense film noir produced by Hal Wallis, and directed by William Dieterle. Set in South West Africa, the film stars Wallis contract star Burt Lancaster and three stars from Wallis's Casablanca - Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, and Peter Lorre. The film introduces Corinne Calvet, and features Sam Jaffe, John Bromfield, and Kenny Washington in supporting roles.[2] Desert portions of the film were shot in Yuma, Arizona.

Rope of Sand
Theatrical release poster
Directed byWilliam Dieterle
Produced byHal B. Wallis
Screenplay byWalter Doniger
Additional dialogue:
John Paxton
Story byWalter Doniger
StarringBurt Lancaster
Paul Henreid
Claude Rains
Peter Lorre
Music byFranz Waxman
CinematographyCharles Lang
Edited byWarren Low
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • August 4, 1949 (1949-08-04) (New York City)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2,250,000[1]


Hunting guide Mike Davis (Burt Lancaster) comes across a cache of diamonds in a remote region of South West Africa, but refuses to reveal its location even under torture at the hand of the diamond company's security chief, Vogel.

When Davis returns to find the diamonds he's hidden away, the company's owner, Martingale (Claude Rains), tries a different tactic by hiring a beautiful woman, Suzanne Renaud (Corinne Calvet), to seduce Davis and find out where the diamonds can be found. Davis meanwhile plans an illegal entry into the diamond mining area to retrieve the diamonds and plans to escape to Portuguese Angola.



According to the Paramount Collection at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) library, the desert sequences were shot in Yuma, Arizona.[3]


Critical response

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.[4]




  1. "Top Grossers of 1949". Variety. 4 January 1950. p. 59.
  2. Rope of Sand on IMDb.
  3. TCM Movie Database. Notes Section (TCM web site in collaboration with the American Film Institute). Accessed: July 21, 2013.
  4. Glenn Erickson Glenn Erickson. DVD Savant, film/DVD review, March 27, 2011. Accessed: July 21, 2013.

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