The main trouble with this tale of 1948 Persia isn’t the Iranians, it’s Hollywood. Almost every fake moment in the film, and there are lots of them, has the touch of Hollywood laid on with a heavy coating. Fortunately for the average viewer, the scenic scope of the film, based on James Michener’s epic story, and shot entirely on locations in Iran, is so sweeping that the tale that is told is almost palatable. But barely.
Briefly, the film deals with the search of a minor American consular employee (Michael Sarrazin) for an American woman (Jennifer O’Neill) who has married an Iranian colonel (Behrooz Vosoughi) but deserted him for a Kochi chieftain (Anthony Quinn) and has disappeared. Sarrazin finds her in short order. That’s when the real trouble begins. She won’t go back and he won’t go back without her and off everyone goes into the desert.
Sarrazin, Quinn and O’Neill carry most of the story. The other non-Persians – Christopher Lee, Barry Sullivan, Jeremy Kemp and Joseph Cotten – are seen so briefly they may have done their roles over a long weekend. Histrionically, only Quinn is believable, followed closely by Vosoughi.
1978: Nomination: Best Costume Design