Thursday, May 19, 2016

Adventures In the Desert

It was so nice to see the sun today! I started a beautiful morning with breakfast and one of the classic Popeye color featurettes. Popeye Meets Ali Baba has the famous sailor, his girl, and their hamburger-loving pal heading for North Africa to take on the infamous title thief (Bluto). When the thieves pretty much strip the town they're supposed to be asking questions in, including taking Olive and Wimpy prisoner, it's Popeye to the rescue!

Spent the rest of the morning working on my story. Cecil manages to hide himself when Jabba calls his oldest daughter to talk to her. He turns her into the spitting image of Leia and gives her Leia's voice in order to trick Han into thinking she's his sweetheart. Cecil sees the whole thing and sneaks off to warn Lando...

I had a quick lunch when I finally got off the computer, then headed to work. Work was pretty much the same as yesterday with nicer weather. I was outside for most of it. The manager kept insisting there were carts that needed to be gathered. It was never really that bad, and from what I saw, it wasn't busy inside, either. I did it because I'd been inside all morning writing, and it really was too nice of a day to be inside.

When I got home, I had leftovers for dinner while finishing the 1953 version of The Desert Song, which I began before leaving for work. As in the 1943 film, a young man named Paul (Gordon MacRae) is El Khobar, the mysterious head of the Riffs, who are causing trouble for the French in North Africa. Here, Paul's other identity is a shy anthropologist who preaches harmony among the desert clans. He's engaged as the tutor to the spirited Margot (Kathryn Grayson), the daughter of the captain who just arrived in North Africa. El Khobar is hoping to make the general listen to reason and help the Riffs, but a local sheikh, who is supposedly in league with the French, dresses his men as Riffs to cause trouble. Now, Paul has to convince Margot and the general to aid his cause and the people of the desert he's come to love.

While I generally prefer the more action-packed wartime version, this one is not without its charms. For one thing, most of the music has been returned to its original context, and there's two additional songs for Margot. Grayson is having tons of fun as the spirited and intelligent general's daughter. Too bad MacRae isn't at her level - he's stiff and unconvincing as Paul. There's some nice color cinematography too, especially out in the desert.  If you love old-fashioned operetta adventure or the two stars, this one is available in the Warner Archives.

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