Before 'Allo 'Allo
It's 1940, before the trouble began, and Emad (Peter Ustinov) along with his fiancee Yasmin (Yvonne De Carlo) and here Mama (Mireille Perrey) run a hotel in the desert. When news breaks that the Italian's have entered the war the place empties but Emad, Yasmin and Mama stay and make the place welcoming to the Italian, proclaiming their allegiance to the Italian's and Yasmin turning on the charm. But the Italian's don't stay for ever and with each country who takes control of the area Emad, Yasmin and Mama switch allegiances and do what is needed to survive.
So the joke is that Peter Ustinov plays a hen pecked owner of a hotel who has to deal with his fiancee and her Mama flirting with the soldiers so that they and their hotel can survive the war. Of course he gets increasing frustrated, things get farcical as they try to keep up the various pretences as different people show up and Yasmin gets increasingly flirtatious. The thing is that the farce just didn't come to life for me, it just wasn't snappy and wise cracking enough for my liking. In fact the entire time I watched Peter Ustinov try to do the farce all I could think of is how good Gordon Kaye was as Rene Artois in "'Allo 'Allo" which I wouldn't be surprised if it had been inspired by this movie.
The problem for me is that Peter Ustinov doing humble and hen pecked ends up annoying and when you have 96 minutes of it, it turns this farce into a bit of a slog which the rest of the cast can't salvage. It is a shame as Yvonne De Carlo turning on the charm as his fiancee who will flirt with soldiers to save the hotel is a lot of fun as is Mireille Perrey as her flirty mum. In fact what makes "Hotel Sahara" worth watching is Yvonne De Carlo who is at her drop dead beautiful best.
What this all boils down to is that for me "Hotel Sahara" doesn't work as a movie with partly Peter Ustinov wrong cast in but the sense of it being a drawn out sitcom making it feel painfully drawn out especially when it makes you think of "'Allo 'Allo". But the supporting cast is good and as a vehicle for Yvonne De Carlo showcases her being drop dead beautiful.