Paul Lartal leads a troop of legionnaires into ambush at the hands of Omar Ben Calif. Returning later at the request of Princess Morjana he is led to the hidden city of Madara, currently harrassed by the evil Crito. Lartal must do in the bad guys (which includes participating in a bare chested spear-throwing contest), save the city and comfort the Princess. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Based on a 1927 novel by Georges Arthur Surdez titled 'The Demon Caravan'. Surdez (1900-1949) contributed many "adventure" stories to such publications as 'Collier's', the 'Saturday Evening Post,' and 'Argosy.' He was especially noted for his French Foreign Legion tales. See more »
Crito Damou aka Omar Ben Khalif:
[to Paul Lartal]
Oh, I've forgotten to tell you. You were tried this morning by my followers. A fair trial. The verdict was unanimous. Death by stoning.
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Another trip to the ex-village sexton/film buff yielded a pleasant evening of movie talk and viewing in this particular case, the former being more rewarding than the latter in view of the fact that the 25-year old print of the obscure Alan Ladd vehicle DESERT LEGION was so washed out as to belie its having been originally shot in "glorious Technicolor"! Indeed, the only color scheme prevalent throughout the screening was a reddish hue that, more than anything else, is a tell-tale sign that a celluloid print is well past its "best before" date. But, as if that was not disheartening enough, the film kept sticking in the projector, making the image jump up and down, requiring our host to make his expert manual interventions a handful of times. For better or worse, the film we were watching was a routine star actioner that even I was unaware of before seeing its worn poster proudly displayed during the latest exhibition of such rare items held regularly for the public by our host. The script requires the viewer to accept diminutive Ladd as a formidable Legionnaire who possesses the only credentials to capture a renegade Arab rebel (played by one of the least likely actors suited for this role, Richard Conte!) that has been preying on their sentries and save the mythical Shangri-La-like community of Medara, buried deep within the desert, from his evil clutches. For support, Ladd only has his old, tale-spinning buddy Akim Tamiroff, while the inevitable love interest is provided by Arlene Dahl with Universal clearly believing that the audience would not have anyone but another statuesque Arabic redhead (a' la Maureen O'Hara) for a leading lady!! Despite the intermittent sprinkling of intriguing ideas Ladd is abducted by the mysterious Dahl and taken to her hidden abode in clear imitation of Pierre Benoit's much-filmed "L'Atlantide"; the two confrontations between Ladd and Conte are both unconventional in nature and setting: in the arena with the two contestants sharing one spear between them and, the climactic one, atop a mountain's rock-face this particular mix, unfortunately, fails to rise to any particularly memorable or even satisfactory level which makes the possibility of a future revisit via superior elements highly improbable!
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