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The Desert Song (1929)

The Desert Song is a 1929 American Pre-Code operetta film directed by Roy Del Ruth and starring John Boles, Louise Fazenda, and Myrna Loy.



(screenplay), (play) | 3 more credits »


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Complete credited cast:
Carlotta King ...
Jack Pratt ...
Roberto E. Guzmán ...
Sid El Kar
Marie Wells ...
Del Elliott ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Lester Cole
Peggy Dale


The Desert Song is a 1929 American Pre-Code operetta film directed by Roy Del Ruth and starring John Boles, Louise Fazenda, and Myrna Loy.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Warner Brothers' spectacular SINGING success







Release Date:

8 April 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Canção do Deserto  »

Box Office


$354,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



| (2-strip Technicolor) (one sequence)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The original stage version of "The Desert Song" opened at the Casino Theatre on November 30, 1926 and ran for 471 performances. See more »

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User Reviews

John Boles Is Terrific
21 February 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

'Neath a desert moon, this famous operetta about a lovelorn woman from Paris and the infamous rebel, the Red Shadow, plays out amid the blowing desert sands and cool evening breezes. Not as cinematic as later musicals, this 1929 mega-hit is basically a filmed stage play and runs 2 hours. But the actors are very good and the film is a precious time capsule of 1920 musical theater.

John Boles, who also starred in the 1929 hit RIO RITA, here plays the infamous Red Shadow who is really Pierre, the meek son of General Birabeau. Margot (Carlotta King) has come to Morocco hoping for romantic adventure but is about to marry the dull Captain Fontaine (John Miljan). Margot likes Pierre but cannot abide his meekness. While she pines for adventure, she is also repulsed by the brutality of the Red Shadow.

There's a whole East vs West mentality here in notions about women, love, manliness, etc. Thrown into this stewpot is the exotic Azuri (Myrna Loy), a half-caste dancer forced to live as a "bad girl." She is the only one who knows the identity of the Red Shadow.

For comic relief we have the dowdy Susan (Louise Fazenda) and her silly (read gay) boyfriend Benny (Johnny Arthur) who also seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Boles, King, Loy, Fazenda, and Arthur are all excellent in their roles.

The 1943 and 1953 versions got progressively sanitized and streamlined, deleting the comic roles, all sexual innuendo, and several songs.

The original 1929 film had several color sequences (apparently lost) but exists in complete form.

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