Given the movies' fascination with Arabia -- one need only consider Valentino as THE SHEIK, the frequent remakes of BEAU GESTE, UNDER TWO FLAGS, THE FOUR FEATHERS, and David Lean's LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, this should have been an interesting movie. Unhappily, it isn't. I have seen about half a dozen of Miss Talmadge's starring films and they are typical industry superstar productions: lots of money spent on production values -- the sets, particularly the interiors, are gorgeous and the compositions great, but what happened to the script? Particularly when it was written by Frances Marion? I think too many of the choices were directed towards what was hot at the moment. Imagine Oscar winner Joseph Schildkraut made up to look like Valentino, including spit curls, depending on which shot you're looking at, and you will understand some of the issues. Others include:
Miscasting: Miss Talmadge is the most Irish-looking Arab you'll ever see. Yes, I know the name 'Talmadge' is Welsh. She still looks Irish. She also looks as if she has recently lost a lot of weight. Did she and Joe Schenck have children and were any born a few months before this went into production?
Plot Holes: a character is caught by the Tuareg army, shot, left for dead and still beats the army into town by half an hour.
Silly Details: Miss Talmadge's character is named Normahal. Does this mean she is normal, actually Norma Halmaj or the first cousin on her father's side to the Taj Mahal?
It is said that Mary Pickford seriously considered having her films destroyed at her death. That would have been a pity, as Miss Pickford's films are always honest in their emotional and story-telling bases. Miss Talmadge's movies, in this period, however, would seem to be the sort of over-produced tripe that is better forgotten, no matter how popular it was at the time.
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