Shiek Yousseff, poses as a friend of the French while secretly plotting to overthrow them. Apposing Yousseff are the Riffs, whose secret leader, The Red Shadow, is Paul Bonnard, a professor... See full summary »
H. Bruce Humberstone
When the famous singer Grace Collins got off the plane that had flown her a remote place in Northen Africa little did she know she would meet love and adventure there. If she came there, it... See full summary »
General Bierbeau sends his weakling son, Pierre, to French Morocco to fight Arab insurgents (the "Riffs") in the hopes that this will toughen him up. He soon becomes the Riffs' leader and ... See full summary »
In advance of the feature, a separately filmed trailer, Vitaphone production reel #2812, was released, featuring John Boles who describes the story and introduces the other cast members to the audience. See more »
Stiff early talkie in a bad print, but for students of both operetta and the transition to sound, it's invaluable. The 1926 stage success, with a stirring Romberg score set to lyrics by Hammerstein and Harbach, was filmed nearly intact, with choruses and reprises galore serving what now looks like the most ridiculous story an operetta ever served up. John Boles, overplaying the simp Pierre while under-emoting his secret alter ego, the Red Shadow, stands around and delivers the title song and "One Alone" a couple of times apiece, while his romantic counterpart, the stage soprano Carlotta King, sings well and manages some enthusiasm. This being as conventional as operetta gets, there's also a second comic couple, overacted by the extremely fey Johnny Arthur and Louise Fazenda, not having one of her better days. Myrna Loy, still playing "exotic" parts, is a hoot as Azuri, hootchie-kootching in dusky makeup and demanding, "Vere is Pierre?" A crowded chorus mostly stands around and sings, the staging's static, the orchestra's playing live somewhere offstage (under the circumstances, the recording's pretty impressive), some sequences are filmed silent and post-dubbed with music and sound effects, and the crude dramaturgy and far-fetched plotting cross over into camp by today's standards. But if you want to know what a 1926 stage operetta looked like, played like, and sounded like, this is as good a chance as you'll ever get.
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