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Desert Nights (1929)

Passed | | Adventure, Drama, Romance | 9 March 1929 (USA)
A con man with his beautiful accomplice and a hostage steals a half million dollars worth of diamonds but finds they're all lost in the desert without water.



(story) (as John Thomas Neville), (story) | 5 more credits »

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Complete credited cast:
Lord Stonehill


Hugh Roland is the manager of an African diamond mine, when Lord Stonehill and his daughter Diana arrive to visit the mine. He immediately takes a liking to the lovely Diana, but unfortunately they turn out to be imposters who seize a tray of diamonds and kidnap him while escaping to the desert. Not knowing how to survive in the desert, the two eventually must rely on Hugh to find water and get them out. Written by Robert Tonsing <rob_tonsing@msn.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

9 March 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Thirst  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(alternate version)| (Movietone) (musical score and sound effects)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


John Gilbert's last silent film. Later that year he would make his disastrous sound debut in His Glorious Night (1929). See more »


Hugh Rand: Buck up, you brave diamond thief! There's sure to be water over that hill!
See more »

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User Reviews

Underrated Silent Gem
31 August 2010 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Desert Nights (1929)

*** (out of 4)

John Gilbert's final silent picture is a pretty interesting one even if its reputation isn't that high. In the film he plays Hugh Rand, a diamond mine owner in South Africa. One day a father (Ernest Torrence) and daughter (Mary Nolan) show up on invitation for some good hunting but it turns out they're a pair of thieves who take Hugh hostage as well as steal $500,000 in diamonds. The three head off into the desert for their escape but soon they're out of water and not sure which way to go so the thieves must depend on Hugh to save their lives. Watching this film there's no doubt that it was rushed together just to save time before MGM had to put Gilbert into a sound feature. I'm really not sure why they selected this one to remain silent as the material could have made for an interesting early talkie but I must say it's a good thing that they kept it silent. The movie runs an extremely quick 62-minutes and for the most part is very entertaining. The reason I say it works best as a silent is because of the hot sexuality throughout the film between Gilbert and Nolan. The two of them certainly heat up the screen and this is apparent early on in a simple dinner sequence where the two begin to get to know one another. Just the way they look at one another just tells you all the sexual undertones you'll need to know. Once the film moves out to the desert it picks up the entertainment as it's clear Gilbert's character is just having fun tormenting the two thieves by constantly reminding them that death is near. I really loved the way Gilbert played the role in a sort of madness that his character finally breaks through and decides to have some fun with the people who kidnapped him. The way he torments the "Father" by coming onto the girl was a lot of fun and just added to the sexual tension running through the film. Gilbert is a lot of fun in the role as he gets to play that tough guy everyone loved him as and I'm sure the women really ate up seeing him burning in that hot sun. Torrence is a real blast as the bad guy as he eats up every scene he's in and you can't help but love to hate him. He's such a arrogant jerk at the start of the film so it's fun seeing him tortured by Gilbert. Nolan is incredibly beautiful in her role and this includes a great sequence with her bathing naked. We don't actually see anything but the implications of the scene are easy to see. Her and Gilbert really burn up the screen and make it worth sitting through. In many ways this film reminds me of a silly serial that has just about everything happening. This film offers up some nice tension but there's also plenty of sexuality, comedy and even camp value especially the scene with the machine gun tied on the side of a car. Fans of silent cinema will really eat this thing up but even those who aren't fans will probably find themselves having fun.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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