The Camels are Coming (film)

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The Camels are Coming
The Camels are Coming (1934).jpg
Directed by Tim Whelan
Written by
Produced by Michael Balcon
Narrated byE.V.H. Emmett
CinematographyGlen Macwilliams
Edited byFredrick Y. Smith
Music by
Distributed by Gaumont British Distributors
Release date
  • 1 December 1934 (1934-12-01)
Running time
79 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom

The Camels are Coming is a 1934 British comedy adventure film directed by Tim Whelan and starring Jack Hulbert, Anna Lee, Hartley Power and Harold Huth. [1] A British officer in the Royal Egyptian Air Force combats drug smugglers. [2]



British officer Jack Campbell (Jack Hulbert) has arrived in Cairo with the first aircraft of the newly-formed Egyptian Air Force. Jack commands the first group of volunteer aviators. The general commanding the Air Force gives him the mission to stop Nicholas (Hartley Power), an American posing as an archaeologist, but involved in drug trafficking.

Nicholas has the help of an Arab sheikh, whose caravans crisscross the desert. During a patrol, Jack intercepts one of these caravans without finding anything. Just then, an aircraft piloted by a beautiful aviator, Anita Rogers (Anna Lee) lands nearby. Back in Cairo, Jack is sure Anita has something to do with the criminal activities, and follows her.

Jack manages to steal a suitcase that a stranger gives to Anita. After a chase among the pyramids of Gizeh, suitcase turns out to contain only cigarettes. The escapade makes headlines and Jack feels the wrath of the general's anger. Shortly after, Anita, who has fallen in love with Jack, apologizes and offers to help Jack by playing the role of the Sheikh's wife while Jack pretends to be the sheikh.

While disguised as Arab, Jack offers Nicholas the chance to sell him hashish. The pretense is uncovered when the real Sheikh arrives. A fight ensues with Jack managing to knock out the two drug traffickers. Jack and Anita, with Nicholas slung over a horse, are pursued by the sheikh's men.

Jack and Anita take refuge in the ruins of a fort, where they are soon besieged but manage to warn Cairo, thanks to a passenger pigeon. The general immediately sends aircraft and troops to help them.

With the drug smugglers put away, Jack and Anita plan their happy future.



Based on a story by Tim Whelan and Russell Medcraft, The Camels are Coming was directed by Tim Whelan, an American who made a number of British films. It was filmed at Islington Studios and on location in Egypt around Cairo and Gizeh including at the famous Shepheard's Hotel.

The aircraft used in The Camels are Coming were:

Many of the scenes in The Camels are Coming later had to be reshot in London at the Gainsborough Pictures studios, as sand had got into the cameras, and high winds prevented the recording of dialogue. [4]

The Camels are Coming was a major success at the British box office, but was not released in the United States. [5] [N 1]

Surviving Recording

On the 1968 Music for Pleasure (record label) LP record release, (A Fabulous Cast Sing and Play) 'The Hits of Noel Gay', (MFP1236), Track 3, Side 2, includes 'Who's Been Polishing the Sun' ?, with Hulbert Assisted by 'Eddie and Rex and Orchestra'. Before the film's re-release on commercial dvd, in 'British Comedies of the 1930s, Volume 8', forty-eight years later in 2016, this release was the only way the recording could be heard. (Brian Rust wrote its liner notes).


In the review of The Camels are Coming, the TV Guide wrote: "Lightweight comedy is slightly above average for British offerings of the period." [7]

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  1. During the filming of The Camels are Coming, Anna Lee met Robert Stevenson, whom she subsequently married. [6]


  1. "Film details: 'The Camels Are Coming' (1934)." BFI, , 2019. Retrieved: 5 August 2019.
  2. Brennan, Sandra. "Review:'The Camels Are Coming' (1934)." AllMovie, 2019. Retrieved: 5 August 2019.
  3. Santoir, Christian. "Review: 'The Camels Are Coming'." Aeromovies, 2 July 2014. Retrieved: 5 August 2019.
  4. Richards 1998, p. 163.
  5. Reid 2007, p. 44.
  6. Bawden and Miller 2016, p. 208.
  7. "Review: 'The Camels Are Coming'.", 2019. Retrieved: 5 August 2019.


  • Bawden, James and Ronald G. Miller. Conversations with Classic Film Stars: Interviews from Hollywood's Golden Era. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 2016. ISBN   978-0-81316-710-7.
  • Reid, John Howard. Hollywood's Classic Comedies Featuring Slapstick, Romance, Music, Glamour Or Screwball Fun!. Morrisville, North Carolina:, 2007. ISBN   978-1-43031-487-5.
  • Richards, Jeffrey. The Unknown 1930s: An Alternative History of the British Cinema, 1929– 1939. London: I.B. Tauris & Co, 1998. ISBN   978-1-86064-628-7.