The classic Under Two Flags, in book [by Ouida], play and through two silent filmizations [1916 and 1922], is still sturdy fare, talkerized. A pioneer saga of the Foreign Legion, Darryl Zanuck and 20th-Fox have further fortified it by a four-ply marquee ensemble (Ronald Colman, Claudette Colbert, Victor McLaglen and Rosalind Russell).
Not the tempestuous Cigarette of the Theda Bara vintage [1916 version] when Under Two Flags was a highlight in that silent film vamp’s career, Colbert nonetheless makes the somewhat bawdy cafe hostess stand up. It’s not exactly in her metier. Twixt the native Cigarette and Rosalind Russell as the English lady, Colman does all right on the romance interest, with the desert as a setting.
Victor McLaglen turns in an expert chore as the scowling Major Doyle, lovesick for and jealous of Cigarette’s two-timing. Gregory Ratoff is planted well for comedy relief with his plaint that he’s already forgotten just what he joined the Legion to forget.
The production highlight is the pitched battle on the desert [directed by Otto Brower, photographed by Sidney Wagner] between the marauding Arabs and the handful of legionnaires defending the fort.