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Robert Z. Leonard
J. Farrell MacDonald
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A racy story of Myrna, who arrives in Cairo to meet her fiance. She attracts the attention of Ramon, a conniving Arab guide who enchants rich women tourists in order to take advantage of them. She falls under his spell, and he turns out to be more than he seems. Written by
Robert Tonsing <email@example.com>
Ramon and Myrna Shine In A Delicious Precode Flick
I am constantly amazed at how sexy the precode films of 1933 are (the last year before the Production Code was enforced, which resulted in all Hollywood actresses becoming virgins again overnight), including this intense movie, "The Barbarian", the story of an inter-racial attraction between a white British woman (Myrna Loy, looking exceedingly beautiful here) and an Arab prince (Ramon Novarro, in what has to be his sexiest role ever), who disguises his true identity as part of a coming of age tribal ritual. Myrna's character is attracted to Ramon's Arab the moment she steps off the train in Cairo, Egypt. Fireworks promptly ensue between the two but it is unclear that Ramon is actually falling in love with the woman he pursues until closer to the end of the picture.
I completely disagree with another reviewer who called this movie "bilge" because of a certain scene in the desert. It is clear that Myrna finds the Arab desirable, so no real force was involved, it was mutual attraction right from the beginning. This was an important film role for Myrna Loy; she finally got to look beautiful and sexy on screen as the lead, instead of being cast in minor roles in silly exotic parts which didn't do much for her talents. It is not right to attack her memory, as the other reviewer here did, for a theme that has been repeated by Hollywood many times over the decades.
Other cast members were perfect here, including dapper Reginald Denny as the fiancée who quickly realizes the Arab's true intents, and Louise Hale as the grandmotherly Powers, who comes off with some of the most hysterically funny lines in the picture.
A wonderfully entertaining and intense film, and I give it a 10 out of 10. Excellent and very romantic. I just wish that Ramon's silent film "The Arab" from 1924, which was the basis for this re-make, was available to compare with this one, but unfortunately it is sitting in European archives and unlikely to ever be seen on video or DVD. Even "The Barbarian" is only available for viewing whenever TCM bothers to show it (usually once per year).
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