The Desert Song (1953)

Passed  |   |  Musical, Romance  |  30 May 1953 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 338 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 2 critic

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... See full summary »


(screenplay), (play), 3 more credits »
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Cast overview:
Sheik Yousseff
Dick Wesson ...
Azuri (as Allyn McLerie)
Gen. Birabeau
Mark Dana ...
Lt. Duvalle


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The wind-swept sands of North Africa! Screaming Arab terror raids! The Harem Dance of Desire! The embattled Foreign Legion! The sheik's palace stormed! And the glorious music of the new "Desert Song" See more »


Musical | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

30 May 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El Khobar - Schrecken der Wüste  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Practically all of the lyrics for "The Riff Song" have been rewritten, even the words that did not have to be changed. This was common practice in several Broadway musical adaptations made before 1955; it was done frequently in the Nelson Eddy- Jeanette MacDonald operettas and it was done in the 1954 film version of "The Student Prince". Movie studios did this so that royalties from all sales of sheet music for the film versions would go to the studios that made the films, not to the original lyricists. Exceptions included the 1936 film version of "Show Boat" and all of the songs except "Cotton Blossom" in the 1951 "Show Boat", as well as the 1943 film version of "Girl Crazy". 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 »


Azuri: It's you - the one with the face!
Benjy Kidd: It's you - the one with the body!
See more »


Version of The Red Shadow (1932) See more »


One Alone
Music by Sigmund Romberg
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, Frank Mandel and Otto A. Harbach
Sung by Gordon MacRae
See more »

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User Reviews

Released during the Silver Age of the comic book action hero genre with which this movie's plot bears similarities.
8 March 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Gordon Macrae does look a lot like Superman and Clark Kent and in this film, he has a secret identity as a mild mannered professor as contrasted with his hero persona, El Khobar.

I must admit I was a collector of Batman, Superman, The Flash, Green Lantern and Silent Knight comics when I first saw this movie as a boy in knee pants. But even then, I knew a good song when I heard it. So well into adulthood when this movie was re-released, I made it a point to see it again. I have borrowed the video version twice and I plan to do so again. I simply can't let go of the melodies of The Desert Song and One Alone.

On Gordon MacRae, what can I say? It doesn't seem fair that one so handsome could also be the greatest singer on celluloid and besides, he is funny. Spoiler: Even my little sons who had no clue about Broadway musicals were in stitches when he pulled that stunt with the ethnic musical instrument that sounded like a cross between the bleating of an ass and a sheep.

Kathryn Grayson who strikes me as prim and proper with a seriously classical singing voice gamely plays the role of a flirt. I am sure if she didn't hit it very big in the movies, she would have been the resident soprano of a major opera theatre. She is always a treat to watch and listen to.

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