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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 Margot Birabeau (Kathryn Grayson) is singing "One Flower in Your Garden" she reaches over to a rose bush and removes a long-stemmed rose with no effort instead of having to cut it free. She then handles the stem without being pricked by the thorns, revealing that the rose is artificial. See more »
Best of the three film versions - colorful and well sung
This is the third and last of the film versions of this operetta. The script here returns rather faithfully to the original, although there are exceptions. MacRae plays Paul as a bespectacled anthropologist. Margot is now the General's daughter as opposed to his being the General's son. Benny Kidd is back as Benjy Kidd (played by Dick Wesson) and Allyn McLerie is fine as Azuri. MacRae sings well as does Kathryn Grayson as Margot. As with the 1944 pseudo-remake, only five songs are retained from the original operetta (Riff Song; Romance; The Desert Song; One Flower; One Alone) with two interpolated (Gay Parisienne; Long Live The Night). Azuri has a dance but to different music than in the original. This version moves along quite well action-wise. Performances are all fine in the musical comedy vein and the Technicolor desert cinematography is gorgeous to behold. All in all the best version of the show on film.
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