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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 »
Desert Legion was Alan Ladd's second film after leaving his nurturing studio of Paramount. It was hoped he would get better parts by his agent and wife Sue Carol. But sad to say this was the run of film he got.
It's a typical action potboiler with Alan Ladd in the French Foreign Legion on patrol and in pursuit of a local Algerian bandit who no one can seem to locate. On patrol one day after a couple of raiders, Ladd and his patrol are surprised by reinforcements who come from out of nowhere and everyone is killed, but Ladd. He wakes up and finds desert princess Arlene Dahl nursing him back to health. The next thing he knows he's back at Legion headquarters with this wild tale of a lost city in the desert.
Ever since Universal made Arabian Nights with Jon Hall and Maria Montez they had these middle eastern sets and so you could depend year after year on one or two pictures with that setting. So on this one shot deal Alan Ladd got to do Desert Legion with those same sets.
Maureen O'Hara in her memoirs said no one thought she was more ludicrous cast in these films as a redheaded Middle Eastern princess. But I will say that Desert Legion did provide some explanation why redheaded Swede Arlene Dahl was in North Africa.
Had this film been done a decade earlier it might have made great material for a serial. It has all the ingredients and you just write a bunch cliffhanger semi-climaxes and it would have done well.
Looking like he's having a great old time is Akim Tamiroff as Ladd's sidekick who deserts with him to find this lost city. Richard Conte however just doesn't come off as an Arab.
Desert Legion is the kind of film Alan Ladd should have been done with at his stage of life and career.
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