Sphinx (1981)





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After a string of hits that included Planet of the Apes (1968), Patton (1970), Papillon (1973), and The Boys from Brazil (1978), director Franklin J. Schaffner stumbled badly with this expensive wannabe cousin to Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Based on a novel by author Robin Cook, this romance-adventure stars Lesley-Anne Down as Erica Baron, a female archaeologist who is searching for a lost Egyptian tomb, hoping that she will be responsible for the next discovery along the lines of King Tut's Tomb. Erica witnesses the murder of a native, Abdu Hamdi (John Gielgud doing his best Alec Guinness impersonation) and when she attempts to solve the crime, she becomes the target of a campaign to kill her using a variety of creative methods, including bats and entombment. In the course of her adventures, Erica also falls in love with a handsome Egyptologist, Ahmed Khazzan (Frank Langella). Sphinx (1981) was a box office disaster from which Schaffner never recovered, directing only three more pictures.
Action & Adventure , Mystery & Suspense
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Lesley-Anne Down
as Erica Baron
Frank Langella
as Akmed Khazzan
John Gielgud
as Abdu-Hamdi
Maurice Ronet
as Yvon Mageot
Vic Tablian
as Khalifa
Martin Benson
as Muhammed
John Rhys-Davies
as Stephanos Markoulis
Tutte Lemkow
as Tewfik
Eileen Way
as Aida
James Cossins
as Carter
Mark Kingston
as Carter
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Critic Reviews for Sphinx

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Audience Reviews for Sphinx


The thing about adventure movies is that they should capture all genres: Action, horror, comedy, romance, etcetera. This overlooked gem by Franklin J. Schaffner captures all of that, not to mention that it's entertainment value is through the roof.

Knox Morris
Knox Morris

I saw this movie a long time ago on British TV and have often wondered if I had just imagined how good it was. But, seeing it again on cable it has all the magic that I remember and also the gorgeous Lesley-Anne Down. The movie centers around the search for a stolen mummy and leads Down as archealogist Erica Barron into danger as she enters a world of corruption, smuggling and murder. The shots of Egypt are simply breathtaking and the movie serves up a generous portion of suspense from Erica attempting to flee a team of assassins towards the beginning of the movie to attempting to evade capture after escaping from a crypt in the second half of the picture. Adding to the superb calibre of this movie are a number of very recognizable faces. In addition to Frank Langella (who had played the title role in DRACULA just a couple of years previous) to John Rhys-Davies (who would go on to play Sallah in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK) there is also Sir John Gielgud (who was perhaps best known to American audiences at that time as the butler in ARTHUR). The movie actually opens in a prelude to the main story. We are in ancient Egypt and a group of thieves are attempting to break into the tomb of one of the Pharoah's. Captured, they meet terrible fates. Fast forward to the 20th century and we meet Baron, who is writing a paper on the man who captures the thieves in the prelude, the advisor to Pharoah Seti 1 of the 19th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt. Upon arrival in Egypt she is shown a rare statue of Pharoah Seti 1 by Gielgud's character (Abdu-Hamdi) before he is brutally murdered. Nobody is quite as they seem and the game of trying to sort out true allegiences will keep you guessing to the closing minutes. Highly recommended.

Darren Harrison
Darren Harrison

Light, but fun little action/suspense/thriller. It's got a great Egyption-ness about it, maybe it's just the music, but the mood was really good. And Frank Langella can't be bad.

Matt Kendrick
Matt Kendrick

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