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 »
The life of Irish tenor Chauncey Olcott is chronicled from his childhood to his days as the toast of New York. In between, his rise to the top is complicated by romances with two women: his... 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 »
After five years and viewing the two later versions, I think that this primordial effort in filmed operetta is far too severely criticized.I agree with all the observations by other IMDb critics, but there are particularly expansive film production values: good tenor and bass voices among the soloists and choruses,such as those of Sid El Kar and Ali Ben Ali,including the choral settings of "One Alone", "Eastern and Western Love," and let's not overlook Clementina and her ladies in "Castanette", "On the streets of Spain","There is a key.".etc.,and much else.Much would be very non-PC today. The writers have not overlooked comedy in the shapes of Johnny Arthur and Louize Fazenda as Bennie and Susan.Bennie's reaction after a bad experience with a horse is priceless.(see the film, I'm not telling you) It's funnier still when he is dressed in an overlong night shirt, and when Ali Ben Ali, the much turbaned,whiskered,ear-ringed,feathered tribal chief and he argue about Bennie's future. He is much funnier than the newspapermen in the later versions,Lynn Overman, and a later forgotten actor; while Ali Ben Ali's wide-eyed ogling with Clementina is quite farcical. I liked John Boles' rendering of "Then you will know",but in the whole contrast with later musicals (and really this is operetta with some sung dialog) Boles is much more dashing than many later singing heroes unless you include the energetic prancing in "Seven Brides for seven brothers". Louize Fazenda and Arthur make a very comic couple and are full of wisecracks: "Why do men marry their secretaries?" Susan (Fazenda)"Well, if you're going to let a man dictate to you,you might as well marry him" On the whole, this is a large scale,very musical and unusual operetta,full of choruses,combining "the desert magic",horses,exterior scenery, men in uniform,very much ahead of its time. But this very essence of romance has its serious moments;the characters,so different from the pasteboard casts of other works, are almost three-dimensional:they have pasts,presents,futures and personal philosophies. Thus Margot,asked by her fiancé why she wears riding habit quips: "I don't suppose you noticed there was a moon out tonight" Gen.Birabeau" See,Margot wants to be carried off by a shiek,as in the story books.." Margot:" I know that Frencnmen are only shieks to the women they don't intend to marry." In the serious episodes, the "Red Shadow's", Pierre's, tentative nervousness during her solo of the "Desert Song" is well portrayed; Captain Fontaine,the fiancé, gets down to business in "I MUST go,Margot"; finally,the epitome of drama shows,when informed by a legionnaire of the "signal fires",Fontaine points up his revolver,fulminating,"A challenge! This will be his last!" In sum, a great orchestration of exotic choreography,comedy,romance,betrayal,crisis and resolution which significantly outperforms its successors decades later.
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