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The Desert Song (1929)

The Desert Song is a 1929 American Pre-Code operetta film directed by Roy Del Ruth and starring John Boles, Louise Fazenda, and Myrna Loy.


Roy Del Ruth


Harvey Gates (screenplay), Oscar Hammerstein II (play) | 3 more credits »


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Complete credited cast:
John Boles ... The Red Shadow
Carlotta King ... Margot
Louise Fazenda ... Susan
Johnny Arthur ... Benny Kidd
Edward Martindel ... Gen. Bierbeau
Jack Pratt Jack Pratt ... Pasha
Roberto E. Guzmán Roberto E. Guzmán ... Sid El Kar
Otto Hoffman ... Hasse
Marie Wells Marie Wells ... Clementina
John Miljan ... Capt. Fontaine
Del Elliott Del Elliott ... Rebel
Myrna Loy ... Azuri
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Lester Cole Lester Cole
Peggy Dale Peggy Dale


The Desert Song is a 1929 American Pre-Code operetta film directed by Roy Del Ruth and starring John Boles, Louise Fazenda, and Myrna Loy.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis











Release Date:

8 April 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Canção do Deserto See more »


Box Office


$354,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Vitaphone)


Black and White | Color (2-strip Technicolor) (one sequence)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Vitaphone production reels #3141-3154; the overture was released on a separate disc, Vitaphone production reel #2930. See more »


Version of The Red Shadow (1932) See more »

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User Reviews

The Desert Zorro
30 April 2010 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The first of three versions of The Desert Song is this early talkie from Warner Brothers which outside of some desert outdoor shots is essentially a filmed stage play. That is valuable unto itself because it is a filmed record of a hit Broadway operetta of the time.

One of Sigmund Romberg's best musical scores with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein, II and Otto Harbach is attached to one of the silliest of plots. But very popular for the time because the news of the Riff rebellion in Morocco was reported in American media and because Rudolph Valentino had made the Moslem inhabited desert quite the romantic place with The Sheik. As I said in two previous reviews of the other filmed Desert Songs, it's a salute to French colonialism.

The Desert Song finds John Boles as a kind of desert Zorro. The French occupiers know him as Pierre in his Clark Kent clumsy identity. But when he dons the red mask and cape he becomes the Red Shadow, leader of the Riff revolt. Boles to use the English expression has truly 'gone native'.

The fiancé of Captain John Miljan of the Foreign Legion, Carlotta King, is in from Paris and yearning for some real romance. Which Boles in his Red Shadow guise gives her in abundance. As Pierre she can't see him for beans.

In the meantime we have Myrna Loy as the desert siren Azuri who's getting dumped by Miljan, doesn't like it, and is working an agenda all her own.

Providing comic relief are Johnny Arthur and Louise Fazenda. Arthur came across as a kind of Eddie Cantor like milquetoast character who is the society columnist for his American newspaper who somehow was sent to cover the Riff Rebellion and doesn't like it at all. Arthur and Fazenda worked very well together.

Carlotta King did her one and only film with The Desert Song. She left the screen and lived to the ripe old age of 102. There has to be some kind of story there. She was in fine voice with a Jeanette MacDonald like quality. Jeanette incidentally was making her screen debut over at Paramount around the same time in The Love Parade.

Forget the silly plot and concentrate on the wonderful songs of Romberg- Harbach-Hammerstein and you can enjoy The Desert Song.

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