25 user 4 critic

The Barbarian (1933)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama, Romance | 12 May 1933 (USA)
An American tourist catches the eye of a disguised Arab prince who decides to kidnap her, then try to win her love.


Sam Wood


Anita Loos (screen play), Elmer Harris (screen play) | 3 more credits »




Complete credited cast:
Ramon Novarro ... Jamil El Shehab
Myrna Loy ... Diana Standing
Reginald Denny ... Gerald Hume
Louise Closser Hale ... Powers
C. Aubrey Smith ... Cecil Harwood
Edward Arnold ... Pasha Achmed
Blanche Friderici ... Mrs. Hume
Marcelle Corday ... Marthe
Hedda Hopper ... Mrs. Loway
Leni Stengel ... Ilsa


A racy story of Myrna, who arrives in Cairo to meet her fiance. She attracts the attention of Ramon, a conniving Arab guide who enchants rich women tourists in order to take advantage of them. She falls under his spell, and he turns out to be more than he seems. Written by Robert Tonsing <rtonsing@ti.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Hear Novarro Sing Love Songs of the Nile! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This film's television premiere took place in Los Angeles Thursday 4 July 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11); it first aired in Cleveland 19 August 1957 on KGW (Channel 3), in Peoria 5 December 1957 on WTVH (Channel 19), in Norfolk VA 10 December 1957 on WTAR (Channel 3), in Spokane 23 December 1957 on KHQ (Channel 6), in San Francisco 17 January 1958 on KGO (Channel 7), in Honolulu 6 February 1958 on KHVH (Channel 13), in Hartford CT 8 April 1958 on WHCT (Channel 18), in Windsor ON (serving Detroit) 1 October 1958 on CKLW (Channel 9), in Tampa 30 December 1958 on WFLA (Channel 8), and in New York City 26 January 1959 on WCBS (Channel 2). See more »


When Jamil leaves Diana's room via the balcony, a camera shadow is briefly seen moving across the railing under him, at the bottom of the picture. See more »


Version of The Arab (1915) See more »


Love Songs of the Nile
by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed
Sung in Egyptian and English by Ramon Novarro (uncredited)
Reprised by Ramon Novarro (uncredited) often
Hummed by Myrna Loy (uncredited)
[Played as background music throughout]
See more »

User Reviews

Does Not Age Well
18 February 2008 | by MaleejandraSee all my reviews

Originally meant to be a steamy romance filled with temptation and scandal, The Barbarian comes off today as antiquated and shocking but for all the wrong reasons. Diana Standing (Myrna Loy) is a wealthy woman from America who comes to Egypt to visit the land of her heritage. Her mother was half Egyptian. There she meets a ruthless womanizer who cons himself into being her guide. Jamil El Shehab (Ramon Novarro) has a history of romancing women and taking their money. He sets his eyes on Diana who no matter how she resists, cannot escape the watchful and menacing eye of Jamil.

Beginning in the 20s, America went wild for all things Arab and mysterious. Women fainted at the thought of men like Rudolph Valentino ravaging them in the desert, something they feared but also longed for. These kinds of stories became commonplace both in Hollywood and in trashy romance novels. Thus, we have The Barbarian. What better subject (rape, brutality, forbidden desire) for a pre-code film? Although she wore a nude bodysuit in the scene, Loy takes a bath in a tub with no bubbles and few flower petals inside to cover her. The soft focus says it all; this movie is all about sex.

Unfortunately today, many women see Novarro as a brute and a savage. Their negative reactions to him make for difficult viewing. His character was intended to be representative of the nagging desire for the unattainable, but by todays standards, Jamil is creepy and bothersome.

Despite these obstacles, the film has some undeniably merits. Novarro's singing enhances the story with a lovely ballad that strains throughout. The direction by Sam Wood leaves the audience with just enough information to tell the story, but not too much as to be smutty. One shot in particular of Diana after her rape is movingly beautiful.

25 of 35 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 25 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.





English | French | Arabic | German

Release Date:

12 May 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Night in Cairo See more »


Box Office


$444,399 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed