10 the Best Action & Adventure Movies Set in the Desert


10.The Flight of the Phoenix 1965

Frank Towns (James Stewart) is the pilot of a twin-engine Fairchild C-82 Packet cargo plane flying from Jaghbub to Benghazi in Libya; Lew Moran (Richard Attenborough) is the navigator. Passengers include Capt. Harris (Peter Finch) and Sgt. Watson (Ronald Fraser) of the British Army; Dr. Renaud (Christian Marquand), a physician; Heinrich Dorfmann (Hardy Krüger), a German aeronautical engineer; and an oil company accountant named Standish (Dan Duryea). There are also several oil workers, including Trucker Cobb (Ernest Borgnine), a foreman suffering from mental fatigue; Ratbags Crow (Ian Bannen), a cocky Scot; Carlos (Alex Montoya) and his pet monkey; and Gabriel (Gabriele Tinti).

A sudden sandstorm disables the engines, forcing Towns to crash-land in the desert. As the aircraft careens to a stop, two workers are killed and Gabriel’s leg is severely injured.

9. Lawrence Of Arabia.  1961

When you think of the sun rising over the morning desert, it is impossible not to think of David Lean’s classic epic ‘Lawrence of Arabia’.

This 3+ hour masterpiece is without question one of the best movies ever made.

The movie makes a central character of the desert. It captures its immense vastness and hostility to life, while at the same time showing it as a place where one can find the space to journey inside oneself.

The movie’s protagonist is a man of many layers, both likable, but often arrogant and hard to relate too. A loner at heart, he is tasked with uniting a people where tribal loyalty and infighting run deep.

In every way, Lawrence Of Arabia deserves the place as the best ever desert movie.

8. Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade

In what should have been the last of the Indiana Jones movies, Indy is back, but this time with his father played by Sean Connery. Together they battle Nazis one last time in order to prevent them from obtaining the Holy Grail. The film was shot partly in Jordan and features the legendary city of Petra as the perfect iconic movie backdrop.

In 1912, 13-year-old Henry “Indiana” Jones, Jr is horseback riding with his Boy Scout troop at Arches National Park in Utah. While scouting caves, Indy discovers a group of grave robbers who have found a golden crucifix belonging to Coronado and steals it from them, hoping to donate it to a museum. The men give chase through a passing circus train, leaving Indy with a bloody cut across his chin from a bullwhip and a new phobia of snakes. Indy escapes, but the local sheriff makes him return the cross to the robbers, who immediately turn it over to a mysterious benefactor wearing a Panama Hat. Impressed with Indy’s bravery, the leader of the robbers gives Indy his fedora to encourage him to not give up.

In 1938, Indy battles “Panama Hat” and his henchmen on a ship off the storm-blasted coast of Portugal, and escaping overboard just before the ship explodes, he recovers the cross and donates it to Marcus Brody’s museum. Later, Indy is introduced to Walter Donovan, who informs him that his father, Henry Jones, Sr., has vanished while searching for the Holy Grail, using an incomplete inscription from a stone tablet as his guide. Indy receives Henry’s Grail diary via mail from Venice, Italy, and heads there with Marcus, where they meet Henry’s Austrian colleague Dr. Elsa Schneider. Beneath the library where Henry was last seen, Indy and Elsa discover a set of half-flooded catacombs that house the tomb of a First Crusade knight that contains a complete version of the inscription that Henry had used, revealing the location of the Grail. They flee when the petroleum-saturated waters of the catacombs are set aflame by the Brotherhood of the Cruciform Sword, a secret society that protects the Grail from evildoers. Indy and Elsa capture one of the Brotherhood, Kazim, who tells Indy where Henry is being held after Indy explains that his only goal is to find his father, not the Grail. Looking through the diary, Marcus finds a map drawn by Henry of the route to the Grail, which begins in Alexandretta. Indy removes the map from the diary, gives it to Marcus for safekeeping, and sends him to İskenderun, the city built on the ruins of Alexandretta, to rendezvous with their old friend Sallah. Elsa begins a sexual relationship with Indy before they depart to find Henry.

7 .The Jewel of the Nile

Taking place six months after the events in Romancing the Stone, Joan Wilder’s (Kathleen Turner) and Jack Colton’s (Michael Douglas) romance has grown stale. While moored at a port in the South of France, Joan, suffering writer’s block, wants to return to New York, while Jack prefers aimlessly sailing the world on his boat, the Angelina. At a book signing engagement, Joan meets Omar Khalifa (Spiros Focás), a charming Arab ruler who wants Joan to write his biography. Joan accepts and leaves with Omar over Jack’s protests. Jack later runs into Ralph (Danny DeVito), the swindler from Jack and Joan’s previous adventure in Colombia, who demands Jack turn over the stone Jack and Joan found. Shortly after, an Arab, Tarak (Paul David Magid), informs Jack about Omar’s true intentions and claims that Omar has the “Jewel of the Nile”; just as Tarak finishes his explanations, the Angelina explodes from a bomb set by one of Omar’s men. Ralph and Jack team up to find Joan and the fabled jewel.

6. Raiders of The Lost Ark. 1981

Raiders of The Lost Ark is the movie that turned hundreds of teenagers into archaeologists.

When it was released back in 1989, the film became an international overnight sensation.

Raiders of The Lost Ark is the movie that turned hundreds of teenagers into archaeologists.

When it was released back in 1989, the film became an international overnight sensation.

The year is 1936. An archeology professor named Indiana Jones is venturing in the jungles of South America searching for a golden statue. Unfortunately, he sets off a deadly trap but miraculously escapes. Then, Jones hears from a museum curator named Marcus Brody about a biblical artifact called The Ark of the Covenant, which can hold the key to humanly existence. Jones has to venture to vast places such as Nepal and Egypt to find this artifact. However, he will have to fight his enemy Rene Belloq and a band of Nazis in order to reach it.

5. SAHARA   1984

In 1927, Gordon (Steve Forrest) develops a new racing vehicle, a hot rod, but dies in a practice run before he can compete in the ‘Trans-African Auto Race’. To save her father’s dream, and win the prize money, Gordon’s flapper daughter, Dale (Brooke Shields) disguises herself as a man and takes the place of her father in the race through the Sahara Desert, with the help of her father’s friends. Dale is an excellent driver and has a good chance to win the male-only race. After she crosses the start line, she takes off her wig and mustache and reveals her true sex to the other participants in the race. While taking a short-cut, she comes close to a tribal war between Bedouin factions. Another racer, the German Von Glessing (Horst Buchholz), also takes the same short-cut in order to supply weapons to the evil leader of the two warring tribes. Dale and her crew are captured by Rasoul (John Rhys-Davies), the uncle of the good leader of the warring tribes. The good leader, Sheikh Jafar (Lambert Wilson), had seen Dale from afar and desired her, so he rescues her from his uncle by claiming Dale as his bride. Dale marries Jaffar and escapes the next morning in her car to attempt to finish the race. She is captured by the evil leader before she can complete the race, but a stow-away gypsy child runs back to Jaffar to tell him of Dale’s capture. Meanwhile, Dale is thrown into a pit of leopards. Jaffar rallies his men, rescues her and allows her to return to drive in the race. Dale wins the race, and when celebrating sees Jaffar’s horse nearby. She bids farewell to her crew, mounts the horse and returns to Jaffar.

4.Walkabout . 1971

A white, city-bred teenaged schoolgirl, her younger brother and their father drive far into the Australian outback, ostensibly for a picnic. The father goes berserk and suddenly begins shooting at the children. They run behind rocks for cover, whereupon he sets the car on fire and shoots himself in the head. The girl conceals the suicide from her brother, retrieves some picnic food, and leads him away from the scene, attempting to walk home through the desert.

By the middle of the next day, they are weak and the boy can barely walk. Discovering a small water hole with a fruiting tree, they spend the day playing, bathing, and resting. By the next morning, the water has dried up. They are then discovered by an Aboriginal boy. Although the girl cannot communicate with him, due to the language barrier, her brother mimes their need for water and the newcomer cheerfully shows them how to draw it from the drying bed of the oasis. The three travel together, with the Aboriginal boy sharing food he has caught hunting. The boys learn to communicate slightly using words and sign language.

3. Mad Max  1979

Mad Max was the movie franchise that was to propel actor Mel Gibson into an international Hollywood star.

The original movie was a low budget Australian film. It tells the tale of a policemen who ends up in a fight for his life with a motorcycle gang after they begin to kill his fellow officers and family.

The film was such a smash hit that it spawned two sequels, and has recently been remade into a film starring Hollywood A-lister Tom Hardy.

While Mad Max 2 might be a better action-adventure movie, the first is arguably the best in the series.

2. Thelma & Louise  1991 

Best friends Thelma Dickinson (Geena Davis) and Louise Sawyer (Susan Sarandon) set out for a weekend vacation at a fishing cabin in the mountains to take a break from their dreary lives in Arkansas. Thelma, a ditzy housewife, is married to a disrespectful and controlling carpet salesman, Darryl (Christopher McDonald), while sharp-tongued Louise works as a waitress in a diner and is on–off dating an easygoing musician, Jimmy (Michael Madsen), who spends most of his time on the road.

On the way, they stop for a drink at a roadhouse bar, where Thelma meets and dances with a flirtatious stranger, Harlan (Timothy Carhart). Later in the parking lot, he starts kissing her and taking her clothes off without her consent. Thelma resists, but Harlan becomes violent and then attempts to rape her. Louise finds them and threatens to shoot Harlan. Harlan stops, but, as the women walk away, he yells that he should have raped Thelma, before further insulting Louise. In a fit of rage, Louise shoots Harlan in the chest, killing him instantly. A horrified Thelma ushers Louise to the car and the pair flee the scene.

At a motel, they discuss how to handle the situation. Thelma wants to go to the police, but Louise fears that no one will believe Thelma’s claim of attempted rape since Thelma was drinking and dancing with Harlan, and they will be subsequently charged with murder. They decide to go on the run, but Louise insists that they travel from Oklahoma to Mexico without going through Texas. Heading west, the women come across an attractive young drifter, J.D. (Brad Pitt), who Thelma quickly falls for, and Thelma convinces Louise to let him hitch a ride with them. Louise contacts Jimmy and asks him to wire transfer her life savings to her. Jimmy surprises her by delivering the money in person, and the two spend the night together. Jimmy proposes to Louise, but she refuses. Meanwhile, Thelma invites J.D. to her room, and they sleep together. She learns he is a thief who has broken parole.


1.The Searchers 1956

For most of his career legendary actor, John Wayne appeared as the definitive Hollywood good guy.

In The Searchers, he takes on the role of a gunslinger who vows to find his kidnapped niece.

Unaware at the time that his journey will take years, Wayne’s character pursues the Native Americans who kidnapped her relentlessly.

His journey and motivations take a dark turn however, as his hatred for Native Americans begins to boil to the surface.

When he discovers that the girl has now bonded with the tribe, Wayne’s character is faced with the decision of whether to kill her or not as she now represents everything he hates.

In 1868, Ethan Edwards returns after an eight-year absence to the home of his brother Aaron in the wilderness of West Texas. Ethan fought in the Civil War on the side of the Confederacy, and in the three years since that war ended, he apparently fought in the Mexican revolutionary war, as well. He has a large quantity of gold coins of uncertain origin in his possession, and a medal from the Mexican campaign that he gives to his eight-year-old niece, Debbie. As a former Confederate soldier, he is asked to take an oath of allegiance to the Texas Rangers; he refuses. As Rev. Captain Samuel Clayton remarks, Ethan “fits a lot of descriptions” (in reference to whether he may be wanted for any crime).

Shortly after Ethan’s arrival, cattle belonging to his neighbor Lars Jorgensen are stolen, and when Captain Clayton leads Ethan and a group of Rangers to recover them, they discover that the theft was a Comanche ploy to draw the men away from their families. When they return, they find the Edwards homestead in flames. Aaron, his wife Martha, and their son Ben are dead, and Debbie and her older sister Lucy have been abducted.

After a brief funeral, the men set out in pursuit. They come upon a burial ground of Comanches who were killed during the raid. Ethan mutilates one of the bodies. When they find the Comanche camp, Ethan recommends a frontal attack, but Clayton insists on a stealth approach to avoid killing the hostages. The camp is deserted, and further along the trail, the men ride into an ambush. Although they fend off the attack, the Rangers are left with too few men to fight the Indians effectively. They return home, leaving Ethan to continue his search for the girls with only Lucy’s fiancé, Brad Jorgensen and Debbie’s adopted brother, Martin Pawley. Ethan finds Lucy brutally murdered and presumably raped in a canyon near the Comanche camp. In a blind rage, Brad rides directly into the Indian camp and is killed.


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