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The Desert Song

The Desert Song(1929)

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The Desert Song (1929)

If Warner Brothers had not sat on the completed reels of this two-strip Technicolor musical for five inexplicable months, it would have beat MGM's Broadway Melody (1929) into theaters and enjoyed the distinction of being the first all-talkie (all-singie?) musical. But while the considerably stiff and stodgy Broadway Melody won Best Picture in 1929, modern audiences find more to love in this Moroccan desert operetta that steals a great deal of appeal from The Sheik (1927), not only because of the Oscar Hammerstein lyrics but the snappy direction of Roy Del Ruth, the shadowy, sensuous cinematography by Barney McGill, and how stars John Boles and Carlotta King can bolt out the bold music with more power than other wispy singers in the early days of amplified sound. Like many early color films, the two-strip segments have been lost, but an early performance by Myrna Loy (when the studios used her as an all-purpose exotic) can still be enjoyed.

By Violet LeVoit

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