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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 who is studying the desert, and whose attacks on the supply trains intended for Yousseff keep the Riff villages in food. Foreign Legion General Birabeau arrives to conduct an investigation, accompanied by his daughter, Margot. Birabeau hires Bonnard to tutor her, and she is attracted to a Legionaire captain, Claud Fontaine. While the general, Bonnard and Fontaine pay a visit to Yousseff, an American newspaper man, Benji Kidd, discovers a secret way in and out of Yousseff's palace, with the aid of Azuri, a dancing girl in love with Bonnard. The latter is forced to resume his role as the Riffs leader, and kidnap Margot until he can convince her of Yousseff's treachery. But Yousseff's men attack the Riff camp and take Margot prisoner. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
The Desert Song and the Cold War: The original refrain for The Riff Song includes the lines: "Ho!/That's the sound that comes to warn you/So!/In the night or early morn, you know/If you're The Red Shadow's foe/The Riffs will strike with a blow/That brings you woe!" In this remake, filmed in the early Fifties at the height of the Cold War and McCarthyism, the "Red Shadow" sounded uncomfortably like the Soviet and Chinese communists, so the lyrics were changed to "If you're El Khobar's foe". When Gordon MacRae re-recorded the songs for the record album featuring Dorothy Kirsten as Margot, the original lyrics were restored. See more »
When the desert messengers are sending the message with their flutes, the fingering doesn't match the tones being played at all. See more »
Though it seems many criticize this in comparison with the stage play, I have always been in love with this movie version. The characters are fun (especially Benjy), the music is heavenly (I could sing it all day!), and the plot is nonstop action. I look at the play and this movie almost as two different shows completely, since there are, admittedly, many differences. Here, Margot is the general's daughter (as opposed to his child being the Red Shadow/El Khobar). Pierre is now Paul. Captain Fontaine's first name is Claude. Benjamin Kidd's nickname is now Benjy instead of Bennie, and his secretary Susan is absent. And there's an evil sheik, making two different foes for the Riffs: The Legionaires and the sheik and his men. All in all, I find the movie quite satisfying.
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