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Paul Bonnard arrives in Timbuktu in search of a guide to escort him into the Sahara desert. American Joe January takes the job despite misgivings about Bonnard's plans. Dita, a prostitute who has been deeply moved by what appears to be Bonnard's spiritual nature, follows the two men into the desert. Eventually the trio arrives in the ruins of a lost city, where Bonnard hopes to find the treasure his father sought years earlier before disappearing. But what Bonnard finds alters him in unexpected ways, with tragic results. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Spanish title for this film was "Arenas de Muerte", which literally translates to "Sands of Death". The Spanish poster only features a closeup of the face of Sophia Loren and her name comes above John Wayne's. She was a much bigger star in Spain than Wayne was in 1957. See more »
They refer throughout the movie to the animals they are riding as donkeys, but they are clearly mules. See more »
Legend of the Lost paired John Wayne and Sophia Loren for their one and only teaming on the silver screen. Too bad it wasn't in a much better film than this barely disguised rip off of Rain.
The setting for this film is French West Africa as it was then known in 1957 before it became several new African countries in a few years. The Duke is Joe January, a freebooting American expatriate who hires out as a guide on the desert.
Rossano Brazzi wants to hire Wayne as a guide to take him to a fabled lost city that he swears his father found out in the middle of the Sahara. The father disappeared on a return trip and Brazzi is also looking to find out what happened to him.
In Timbucktu both of them encounter Sophia Loren who's a working girl. She's got the both men going, but it's Brazzi she really loves. Brazzi's a spiritual sort of fellow, talking about doing some good for the native population. When they go out in the desert, she trails after them.
They find the ruins of what was an old Roman city, bet you didn't know the Romans got that far south. Brazzi also learns what happened to his father with a letter found on his remains and two other human remains and some forensic conclusions. For the rest of the story if you've seen any adaption of Somerset Maugham's Rain you know what's going to happen.
I have to say that on the plus side Jack Cardiff's color cinematography of the Libyan desert because that's where the film was shot is breathtakingly beautiful. The rest of it is kind of silly. Forgetting the fact that Sophia with two men on the desert is going to lead to obvious complications, I cannot believe that Wayne was taking booze on the trip. In his role here and in real life Wayne was a prodigious drinker. But alcohol except some small amount for medicinal emergencies is an outright hazard on the desert. The sun will dehydrate you that much quicker if you keep drinking alcohol as well as water. Not to mention traveling by day instead of by night.
My conclusion is that since this was a Batjac production, John Wayne wanted to do something that could be classified as arty. Since he had already done well in The Long Voyage Home, I'm not sure what he felt he had to prove.
I do wonder what Somerset Maugham must have thought when he saw this film though.
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