Love Song of the Desert (1943)

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German title Love song of the desert
Original title The Desert Song
Country of production United States
original language English , French , German
Publishing year 1943
length 90-95 minutes
Director Robert Florey
script Robert Buckner
production Robert Buckner
music Heinz Roemheld
camera Bert Glennon
cut Frank Magee

Love song of the desert (original title The Desert Song ) is an American musical film by Robert Florey from 1943. The leading roles are starred with Dennis Morgan and Irene Manning , leading roles with Bruce Cabot , Lynne Overman and Gene Lockhart .

The screenplay is based on the play The Desert Song , the book and text of which is by Lawrence Schwab , Otto Harbach , Oscar Hammerstein II and Frank Mandel . The music goes back to Sigmund Romberg . The musical premiered in New York on November 30, 1926.

The film was nominated for an Oscar in the category “Best Production Design” .


Morocco in 1939: The Moroccan Caid Yousseff tries to build a railway to Dakar on a private basis. However, the work is constantly disrupted by attacks by the local Rifkabylen , Rifs for short, under the leadership of the mysterious El Khobar. Khobar is the American Paul Hudson, a veteran of the Second Moroccan War . Johnny Walsh, an American journalist stationed in Morocco, tries to inform the public of the attacks, but the French censors stop this. An attack that followed only a little later, led by El Khobar, led to the liberation of the Rifkabylen, a Berber tribe who were forced to carry out the work on the railway line. Part of the route is also destroyed. El Khobar's men also manage to free the native Tarbouch.

Paul Hudson, who, when he's not El Khobar, works as a pianist in the Père Fan Fan café, casually tells the French singer Margot that the Rifs reject Yousseff but not France. The next day, a meeting between Yousseff and Colonel Fontaine, Yousseff's partner in his railroad business, is observed. Yousseff is supported in his business by the National Socialist government in Germany and not only financially. Yousseff suggests that Fontaine look for El Khobar in the local café. His spies are supposed to gather there undetected and Fontaine should take Margot with him, which makes his stay more inconspicuous and obscures the real purpose. Fontaine and Margot then meet Johnny and Paul in the café. As soldiers approach the café, the natives start a song that serves as a warning. Paul plays the notes on the piano. When the soldiers reached the café, all the Arabs had disappeared.

When Paul later learns that some of the captured Rifabyls are being tortured, he wants to free them. He invites Margot, who is a friend of Fontaine, into the desert, where he wants to ask her a few questions. She discovers that he is El Khobar. After spending time with the Rifs, Margot agrees to Paul's request to help him, too, since she has fallen in love with him. Paul Yousseff sends a message under his name El Khobar and offers him to exchange Tarbouch for the arrested Berbers. Fontaine, who is currently staying with Yousseff, follows the rebel to the Café Père Fan Fan, but finds only Paul at the piano. The dust that Yousseff discovered on Paul's boots arouses his suspicions, but Paul can refute this with a logical explanation. Johnny, who knows about Paul's secret identity, tells Margot a little later that he is aware of a planned ambush. Margot replies that Paul is currently meeting with the head of the Rifkabylen to work out a peace plan that he will then bring directly to Paris. Johnny then rushes into the desert to warn Paul. However, the attack has already started when it arrives. Johnny leaves his horse to Paul so he can escape. Shortly afterwards he is arrested by the French because they now believe Johnny to be El Khobar.

Margot learns from Fontaine that he has captured El Khobar and at the same time proposes to her. Margot refuses and accidentally reveals the true identity of El Khobar. Fontaine now plans to arrest Paul when he says goodbye. However, when he learns that the railway line is being financed with German and not French money, he joins Paul. He also promises him that the Rifkabylen will be treated fairly in the future. Paul then goes to his men, where he first wants to hide. The troops then hear over the radio that France has taken over the railway project. Paul and Margot are reunited at a party shortly afterwards.


Production notes, background

MGM tried to acquire The Desert Song for studio stars Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy as early as 1938 . However, Warner Bros. held on to their right hand and eventually decided to make the film themselves.

The shooting took place between the beginning of June and the end of August 1942, i.e. after the United States entered World War II . As reported by The Hollywood Reporter in May 1942, much of the film was shot on location in Arizona and Gallup , New Mexico . According to a studio note, backdrops built for the film on the Moroccan street were later used in the classic film Casablanca .

It took French-born director Robert Florey almost a month to shoot the desert scenes in New Mexico. The time was marked by sandstorms and extreme heat. Florey contributed his own art objects for the scenes in the café. The studio was so pleased with Florey's work that he was offered a long-term contract, but he had already chosen another studio.

Actually, the name of the producer Robert Buckner should not be mentioned in reference to the fact that he was also the writer of the script. CBCS also credited Buckner with the script, while co-writing a recent biography by director Robert Florey.


Actor Lynne Overman, who was cast in the role of Johnny Walsh, died before the film was released. The Bureau of Motion Pictures of the OWI protested against the unsympathetic portrayal of the French in the film as well as the portrayal of the French collaboration with the Germans, which manifests itself particularly in the character of Colonel Fontaine. As a result, the role was changed in such a way that Fontaine was clueless about German support.

Music in the film (selection)

  • One Alone , music: Sigmund Romberg , text: Otto A. Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein II
    sung by Dennis Morgan
  • The riff , music and lyrics as before
  • The Desert Song , music and lyrics as before
  • Romance , music and lyrics as before
  • Fifi's Song , Text: Jack Scholl, Music: Sigmund Romberg
  • Gay Parisienne , text: Jack Scholl, music: Serge Walter
  • Long Live the Night , text: Jack Scholl, music: Mario Silva and Sigmund Romberg
  • French Military Marching Song , Music and Text: Sigmund Romberg


Modern sources suggest that the release of the finished film was delayed due to war restrictions. The premiere of the film took place on December 23, 1943 in New York, from January 29, 1944 the film was then generally in the United States. In the same year it was also published in Mexico and Sweden, in 1945 in Belgium (Brussels, Cinéma de la Garnison), in 1948 in Turkey, Portugal, Finland and Denmark. Another publication took place in Argentina, Brazil, Greece and Italy. The film was released in the Federal Republic of Germany under the title Love Song of the Desert .

The film was first released on DVD in the United States in 2014. For copyright reasons this was not possible before, which is why it disappeared into oblivion after 1948.



Margarita Landazuri explained at Turner Classic Movies that Warner Bros. contract star Dennis Morgan played the charming hero with charm and energy and also had the opportunity to present his excellent tenor voice. He also goes well with the blonde soprano Irene Manning, who plays the café singer he loves. For a musical, it is said, the action scenes are surprisingly tough.

Glenn Heath Jr.'s review of Not Coming to a Theater Near You indicated that the film had not been shown for more than 50 years due to copyright reasons. At the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival it was said that although this was not a great film, it was fun. He could only half-heartedly agree to this statement. It is more an inconsistent and inactive Casablanca clone. Corruption, racism, religion and terrorism are all facets that the film contains. Although the production tries to create an image of heroism and willingness to make sacrifices in a stifling, hot desert landscape, the melodramatic piece of American interventionism is nothing more than an illusion.

Florey's biographer Brian Taves described the film as "a major artistic and creative triumph for Florey" that came about with great difficulty due to management interventions and extremely grueling filming, including problems with censorship. [...] The opinion today is that Florey's version is the best of the films; So Bosley Crowther wrote in the New York Times : "This cheeky and colorful film offers relaxing entertainment and lively fun, including colorful plot sections in the café, in which it smells pleasant, and action in the burning desert sand." Dennis Morgan is sometimes in a gray suit, sometimes in the purple burnous a white American who had to withstand an overwhelming onslaught in the desert and Irene Manning an elegant singer in a warm musical comedy style. Even if this is not another 'Casablanca', the film will warm you for a good hour.

PopMatters' Michael Barrett gave the film four stars out of ten and said it was nice and boring, just like his romantic couple. At least there are some surprisingly sharp remarks that Dennis Morgan is allowed to make as El Khobar. A startling conversation in the film comes closer to the realities in Morocco than that in the film Casablanca (where the Moroccan street was also recycled), but does not yet make the film a classic. As in Casablanca , it ultimately turns out that the French policeman (Bruce Cabot) is not as bad as one initially thinks.


Academy Awards 1945

Further films

The film released in 1933

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. The Desert Song (1943) see screenplay info at TCM - Turner Classic Movies (English)
  2. a b c d The Desert Song (1943) see Articles at TCM (English). Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  3. a b c d The Desert Song (1943) see notes at TCM (English). Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  4. The Desert Song (1943) see original print info at TCM (English)
  5. Musical Monday: The Desert Song (1943) see (English)
  6. Tonight's Movie: The Desert Song (1943) - A Warner Archive DVD Review see (English)
  7. Glenn Heath Jr .: The Desert Song see review (English). Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  8. ^ Bosley Crowther: The Desert Song In: The New York Times . December 18, 1943 (English). Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  9. Michael Barrett: 'The Desert Song' Is Pretty and Dull see, December 11, 2014 (English). Retrieved February 7, 2019.