Tuesday, October 07, 2014

One Alone

Spent the morning finally watching the 1943 Desert Song and whipping up Pineapple-Carrot Muffins. Unlike the 1929 or 1953 films, this version of the popular operetta is very much tied to what was going on during the war years. Here, the Red Shadow is called El Khobar (as he would be in 1953), and is leading the Riffs against oppression not only from the French, but from the Nazis as well. Margot Bonadeaux (Irene Manning) is a singer who performs in a popular local nightclub. She's being courted by the handsome Captain Fontaine (Bruce Cabot) who is determined to capture El Khobar, who is trying to stop the construction of a railroad the Nazis need to carry supplies. What he doesn't know is that El Khobar is really Paul (Dennis Morgan), a local reporter who moonlights as a pianist and singer at night. When Margot is captured by El Khobar and his men, she learns his secret...and how important his work is to the Riffs and to North Africa.

While it uses less of the music and original plot than the 1953 film, this is otherwise an enormous improvement. It's really more of a musical action film than a typical operetta, with more emphasis on shoot-outs and confrontations than on music and romance. Morgan is having more fun than either Gordon MacRae in 1953 or Nelson Eddy on TV in 1955 and handles the music and action equally well. Manning's not bad as Margot, though she lacks the spirit Kathryn Grayson put into the role in 1953.

If you can only get one Desert Song, get this one. While I do wish there was more music (and that it was better integrated into the plot - it's mostly used for nightclub numbers), this is far less bland than either of the 50s versions. If you love Morgan, wartime action, or Lawrence of Arabia-style desert tales, this one is in the Warner Archives after decades of being stuck in legal red tape and is well worth seeking out. 

Ran a couple of Looney Tunes as I cleaned up from baking and got ready for work. Bugs and Daffy have their own fun in North Africa when they find Ali Baba's treasure, the none-too-bright lackey guarding it, and a genie with interesting ideas of revenge in "Ali Baba Bunny." Yosemite Sam wants Bugs, who has a sixth sense for finding gold, to lead him to a big strike in "14 Carrot Rabbit." Bugs, as usual, has his own ideas.

Work was pretty much the same as yesterday - very busy off and on. We frequently had lines down the aisles. I'm guessing it's the last of the beginning-of-the-month people coupled with good sales. I was glad when one of the college girls arrived right on time to relieve me and I could go straight home.

When I got in, I put on a few episodes of Good Eats while making broccoli with butter sauce and leftover macaroni and cheese and chicken for dinner. I did do the episode on broccoli. I don't know how anyone could not love broccoli. It's always been one of my favorite vegetables. I'm not as big of a fan of celery, but I did enjoy that braised celery dish Alton made towards the end of the celery episode.

There were clouds over the area since mid-afternoon, but they didn't burst until about 20-30 minutes ago. It's supposed to rain off and on all week and into next week. We'll see what happens.

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