Struggle on the Nile
Director: Atef Salem
Year:  1959
Rating: 7.0

Country: Egypt

This one has three of the biggest stars in Egyptian cinema at the time. The sex symbol Hind Rustum (sometimes spelled Rostom), Rushdy Abaza and one that you will know - Omar Shariff, three years before he became famous worldwide in Lawrence of Arabia. The film is a dramatic tale of their changing relationships to one another with touches of humor and music along the way. But much of the film's pleasure for me was simply the sailboat going up the Nile, the sails up high billowing with the wind and against the sky.

It begins in Luxor underneath the grand columns and temples from over two thousand years ago - just a part of the city structure. A group of shippers have decided to stay up with the times and have sold their sail boats in order to buy a motorized barge. The head of this group asks Mujahed (Rushdy Abaza) and the head man's son Muhasab (Shariff) to sail the Bride of the Nile (not to be confused with a film of the same name) to Cairo and sell it and add it to the money they have been given to buy the barge. Mujahed is an old hand and as honorable as the Nile is long while Muhasab is a novice and on his first trip as a "man". But a gang hears of the money they are carrying and aim to steal it.

They stop along the way and Muhasab who has been given the responsibility to carry the considerable cash gets off at anchor and goes to a local circus and soon every pickpocket in town seems to hear about it through the pickpocket grapevine. It is a wonderfully shot scene full of energy and local color and crowds in which Muhasab is the main target. He stops to watch the Great Nargis (Hind) dance and nearly explodes with lust and pheromones as she gets close to him - also wanting to steal his money. The next day she connives her way on board and the sexual tension builds (particularly when she dances on board swaying her large hips like a swing in motion) and the antipathy grows between Muhasab and Mujahed as she plays Muhasab like a spinning top and incites a rivalry. She is a classic honey trap in league with the gang. The virgin is in way over his head and wasn't too bright to begin with. This is not a heroic role for Sheriff by any means - he starts off stupid and ends up just as stupid. Hind rocks in this film sending out insincere sexual desire like a telegraph on fire with every smoldering look and phony come-on.