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The Desert Song (1953)

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 »

Writers:

Roland Kibbee (screen play by), Laurence Schwab (based upon the play by) | 4 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview:
Kathryn Grayson ... Margot Birabeau
Gordon MacRae ... El Khobar / Paul Bonnard
Steve Cochran ... Captain Claude Fontaine
Raymond Massey ... Sheik Yousseff
Dick Wesson ... Benjamin 'Benjy' Kidd
Allyn Ann McLerie ... Azuri (as Allyn McLerie)
Ray Collins ... Gen. Birabeau
Paul Picerni ... Hassan
Frank DeKova ... Mindar
William Conrad ... Lachmed
Trevor Bardette ... Neri
Mark Dana Mark Dana ... Lt. Duvalle
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Storyline

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 <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The best loved of all musical adventures! See more »

Genres:

Musical | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 May 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El Khobar - Schrecken der Wüste See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

When the desert messengers are sending the message with their flutes, the fingering doesn't match the tones being played at all. See more »

Quotes

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

Crazy Credits

Opening card: It is written in the burning sands of the Sahara: When there is wrong, there will always be an El Khobar, the Avenger, riding with his Riffs to right it. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hi-de-Hi!: Raffles (1984) See more »

Soundtracks

If One Flower Grows Alone in Your Garden
(uncredited)
Music by Sigmund Romberg
Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, Frank Mandel and Otto A. Harbach
Sung by Kathryn Grayson
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 DeusvoltSee 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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