In modernizing story, German agents and plans to construct new railroad in North Africa for terminus at Dakar provide motivation for Riff uprising and leadership by Dennis Morgan, an American piano player in Morocco nightspot, who’s been fighting Franco in Spain prior to moving across the Mediterranean to Africa. Irene Manning is the new singer at the cafe, with mutual romance developing.
Riffs are rounded up by French officers to work on the railroad, with native Victor Francen, a tool of the Nazis, impressing the natives to work. But Morgan, as El Khobar, leader of the Riffs, circumvents the plans by periodic appearances on the desert and in Morocco to lead the natives in revolt against the forced labor regulations. From there on it’s series of chases across the desert sands, pitched battles, and wild adventure.
Despite modernization to provide film technique and movement to the operetta, basic entertainment qualities of Desert Song are retained to provide most diverting audience reaction at this time.
Morgan is neatly cast as the Red Rider, delivering both dramatic and vocal assignments in top style. Manning capably handles the girl spot as singer and actress.
1944: Nomination: Best Color Art Direction