Tall tale or not, the film works out as an old-fashioned story of high adventure. Hopkins accepts the challenge of Sheikh Riyadh (Omar Sharif) to join the world's longest and toughest endurance ride, the "Ocean of Fire" which runs three thousand miles from Aden to Damascus, across some of the world's most hostile terrain. Along the way, he encounters Arab princesses, disdainful Arab princes, Bedouin bandits, sandstorms, locust plagues, and, of course, cheating and treachery. To describe it as Indiana Jones Meets Seabiscuit would not be far off the mark. Critics have derided the film as being too slow, too crudely plotted, and too unbelievable, none of which I agree with. The film could have been shortened a bit in the early going before the race actually starts, but the conflicts laid out there are important to what happens after.
I enjoyed Mortenson's performance as the laughing but spiritually wounded "cowboy". Omar Sharif repays my respect in his role as the Sheik. Zuleika Robinson was very good as his "wayward" daughter, Louise Lombard effective as the obsessed Lady Anne Davenport, and a very nice cameo by Elizabeth Berridge as Annie Oakley.
All in all, we did find it a good old-fashioned movie: no sex, (not that I mind a little sex--) no remarkable profanity, and no excessive violence or gore, lots of virtue, honor and decency. Definitely worth seeing.