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 ...
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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 assumes a secret identity: "The Red Shadow." Pierre is still regarded as a weakling by the French troops because he always seems to let the Red Shadow slip through their fingers. When Pierre's sweetheart, Margot, visits the French garrison, she succumbs to the Red Shadow's charms. Written by
David Glagovsky <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A little too much story to stuff into twenty minutes
The original film version of the Desert Song was actually made in 1928. It was an antique by the end of 1929, but the music was beautiful, even through the fog of the primitive Vitaphone recording. Thus, with technology greatly improved, Warner Brothers went for a remake of their dawn of sound operetta. However, musical pictures were out of fashion in 1932, so the film was made into a twenty minute short. This story of a perceived weakling who is constantly disappointing his soldier father and the weakling's alter-ego, the brave renegade known as The Red Shadow, was overly long in 1929 at 123 minutes. Likewise, 20 minutes is just not enough time in which to stuff the story, much less all of the beautiful music. This is a pretty good short for those of us who have seen any of the feature film versions. However, for those who haven't, you'll probably perceive this short as overly busy, which it really is.
Not to mention that Alexander Gray really can't hold a candle to the original Red Shadow - John Boles. I wish Warner Bros. could have had him reprise his role here, it really would have improved matters. Then there is the matter of Azuri the Arab vamp. Originally she was played by Myrna Loy, who was always getting stuck with playing the vamp over at Warner Brothers. She delivers a delicious campy performance in the original, but there is not much for the character of Azuri to do here - there simply isn't enough time.
Watch the original 1929 film first, in all of its primitive glory, then observe this short and think of what might have been if the original cast could have been reassembled four years later for a remake of reasonable length - 60 minutes should have adequately done the job.
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