Thursday, May 08, 2014

Tonight's Movie: The Desert Hawk (1950)

I enjoyed Yvonne DeCarlo so much in BLACK BART (1948) that I pulled another DeCarlo film out of my towering "to be watched" stack, THE DESERT HAWK (1950). It proved to be grand fun.

THE DESERT HAWK is an Arabian Nights-type fantasy in the style of FLAME OF ARABY (1951) or PRINCESS OF THE NILE (1954). It's not meant to be taken seriously, and indeed, the soundstage deserts and wild mix of British and American accents are part of the movie's Saturday matinee style charm. It's even got Rock Hudson as a guard! Sometimes I wonder if he was in the cast of every early '50s film made by Universal.

Omar (Richard Greene), also known as the Desert Hawk, is a kind of Robin Hood of the desert, working to free his people from taxation and tyranny. As part of his efforts he impersonates Prince Murad (George Macready) and marries the Princess Scheherazade (DeCarlo)'s a complicated story, but needless to say it's no hardship for Omar to marry a woman as gorgeous as the princess.

Scheherazade awakens the morning after the wedding very happy with her new husband...only to discover he's gone missing, along with her dowry.

From here it only gets more complicated, as the evil Murad has Scheherazade kidnapped by someone impersonating the Desert Hawk. It's a bit convoluted yet still easy to follow as it unfolds, and it's great fun as the real Desert Hawk must come to the rescue of his wife, who's none too happy with her errant husband...not least because she discovers she's married a blacksmith! Needless to say everything's untangled in 77 minutes, with lots of swordplay, action, and romance along the way.

The cast also includes Jackie Gleason, Carl Esmond, Frank Puglia, and Ian MacDonald. Apparently I missed picking Robert J. Wilke out of the crowd as a camel driver! Michael Ansara is also somewhere in the movie, as a guard. Jeff Chandler delivers the opening narration.

THE DESERT HAWK was directed by Frederick De Cordova, who directed other favorite DeCarlo movies such as THE GAL WHO TOOK THE WEST (1949) and BUCCANEER'S GIRL (1950). It was filmed in Technicolor by Russell Metty, who also shot FLAME OF ARABY (1951).

This film cries out for a Universal Vault release similar to FLAME OF ARABY (1951). If only!

THE DESERT HAWK has been released on Region 2 DVD in Spain. I'll never understand why so many Universal films are released in Europe and not here. (Update: THE DESERT HAWK has finally been released in the U.S. as a single-title DVD in the Universal Vault Series.)

Deepest thanks to my friend Carrie for sharing this movie with me!


Blogger Kristina said...

this looks really cool! So many irresistible actors and I love this genre too, which is made for technicolor!

5:14 AM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Taxation and tyranny -- and nowadays progressive people embrace both.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I really hope this will have a U.S. DVD release at some point.

Best wishes,

9:53 AM  

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