1943 Motion Picture

JimThe Desert Song

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1943 Motion Picture

Directed by Robert Florey | Screenplay by Robert Buckner | Based on the play by Oscar Hammerstein II, Otto A. Harbach, Frank Mandel & Laurence Schwab

The second film adaptation of The Desert Song, released on December 17, 1943, was directed by Robert Florey and starred Dennis Morgan, Irene Manning and Bruce Cabot. The original 1929 adaptation of the musical had been released before the Motion Picture Production Code prohibited suggestive humor, innuendo and frank representations of sexuality, so a new version was required to pass the censors. The story was updated to include Nazis and contemporary espionage, and only six songs were retained from the original score. Three new songs were added. Technically, the film was far superior to the 1929 version, thanks to advancements in color and sound. This 90-minute version was presented in full three-strip Technicolor.

The movie was well received; Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called it “utterly fantastic,” and Alton Cook of the World-Telegram said, “All in all, this is a much better version than you ever came across before.” Audiences agreed; the movie was Warner Brothers’ highest-grossing film of the year.