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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Desert Legion (1953)

An officer (a bronzed Alan Ladd) in the French Foreign Legion leads his men into an ambush by Algerian rebels where he is the only survivor. He is nursed back to healthy by a mysterious desert beauty (Arlene Dahl) who seeks his aid in protecting her village, a lush "Shangri-La" paradise hidden in the mountains of the Sahara. This rather silly desert adventure is preposterous in its plot and a suspension of belief is required to get through the narrative. Ladd is his usual dour self, Dahl is breathtaking in Technicolor (and in Bill Thomas' Arabian nights costumes) and Richard Conte makes for a nifty villain even though he comes across as more Brooklyn than Arabic. There's lots of action (a duel between Ladd and Conte with a single spear is decently done), some exotic dancing girls and if you're looking for mindless Saturday matinee material, this should suffice. Directed by Joseph Pevney (TAMMY AND THE BACHELOR). The colorful underscore is by Frank Skinner (IMITATION OF LIFE). With Akim Tamiroff, who seems to be meant as the comedic relief but he's not remotely funny, Anthony Caruso, Ivan Triesault and Leon Askin.

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