Channel 4 look into Saddam Hussein’s ‘movie business’
Channel 4 is to tell the extraordinary story of Saddam Hussein’s farcical venture into the movie business, revealing for the first time on UK screens, a film that has been lost in a garage in Surrey for the last 35 years.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard a story quite like this. It’s amazing the film ever got made, with a drunken leading man and a real life war zone to say nothing of the pressure of keeping Saddam Hussein happy. It’s like Lost in La Mancha meets Carry on Baghdad.” – Rob Coldstream, Channel 4
This tale involves notorious hell-raiser Oliver Reed, a lavish film set, debauchery, black humour, and a terrified cast and crew trying desperately to get a film in the can as the Iraq-Iran war raged around them. The epic film, which had a multimillion pound budget on a par with Return of the Jedi, was bankrolled by Saddam as he was determined to tell the birth story of modern Iraq. However, when filming began, so too did the Iran-Iraq War.
Described by his cast mates as ‘a weapon of mass destruction,’ Oliver Reed wreaked havoc off set, drinking the bars of Baghdad dry, horrifying the locals and risking the entire production as Saddam’s henchmen demanded he be thrown off set. Against all the odds, the movie was finished but disappeared without a trace, along with Saddam’s regime.
With the discovery of the tapes, the cast and crew now assemble for the first time since their Middle Eastern adventure, to piece together with the help from never before seen rushes, behind-the-scenes footage and set photos, the unbelievable story behind one of the most bizarre movies ever made.
“While Saddam waged war on Iran, Ollie Reed was involved in his own campaign terrorising the bartenders of Baghdad. You could not make it up. But this is not just a romp about making a lavish feature film in a country at war; it’s also an insight into Britain’s involvement in the Middle East and the rise and fall of Saddam.” – Iain Scollay, Creative Director, Mentorn Scotland and Executive Producer
Channel 4 have yet to announce a broadcast date for the production.