AzuriTigerClaws

The Desert Song

10 posts in this topic

One of my favourite musicals is The Desert Song which even my friends and people I've met at uni who love musicals and know a lot of shows haven’t heard of. I've only seen clips from the first and third movies and haven't seen all of the second one. But I listen to recordings of the stage score practically all the time.

Aside from the songs, which are great and make me suspend my disbelief that the hero can sneak out of the fort without anyone noticing that he's always disappearing and that a lot of raids and attacks seem to happen when he's not there and the heroine doesn't notice that her friend and her crush are the same person, the reason I like this is the premise is adaptable even though the musical's so grounded in the 1920s in the references and even its basic inspiration. And that's why I personally kind of like the idea of another movie - not a remake but one updating the original show - along the lines of the 1943 version with more focus on the adventure but a lot of the musical numbers carefully worked into the plot. And with actual Moroccans playing the Riffs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And in terms of the movies the one thing that bothers me is all the Arab roles being played by non-Arabs.

 

The studio system used at the time (1943) is the main reason ethnic specific actors were not cast for ethnic specific roles.   Most actors were under contract with a studio and they got paid regardless if they were in a movie or not.   Therefore studios would use the actors they were already paying instead of hiring NON contract actors for a specific film.    In addition casting decisions were made related to Box Office draw (i.e. the ability of an actor to attract moviegoers).    This is why the leading actors were almost exclusively white,  since those were the actors that had box office draw.

 

Also, few movies were made on location until the 50s.  Therefore background "actors" (fill in folks, many not being actors at all) were people who were in Hollywood.     The So Cal area wasn't as 'mixed' as it is today and this limited the different type of people available.  

 

Note I'm not attempting to defend Hollywood and their casting decisions.   I'm only trying to explain why the how movies made during the studio-era impacted the cast of a film by providing an historical perspective.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And in terms of the movies the one thing that bothers me is all the Arab roles being played by non-Arabs.

Why does that bother you?  Does it bother you that a French queen in THE LION IN WINTER is being played by a non-French woman, or a non-queen?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why does that bother you? Does it bother you that a French queen in THE LION IN WINTER is being played by a non-French woman, or a non-queen?

Well actually bother isn’t the right word and I've edited the post to say what I actually meant (thanks James for the explanation of the studio system and how it affected casting). It doesn't bother me in older movies the way it would in a recent one and the reason for this is due to representation and the fact that the there are more opportunities for hiring non-Anglo/Western European actors today than in the decades when these movies were made. The Eleanor example is entirely different because it's possible for a person to stop being royal by abdicating/marrying a non-royal and refusing a title or to change their nationality while they can't change their race or ethnicity that easily. Being French is a nationality and an ethnicity. If I got plastic surgery on my eyelids it wouldn't change the fact that I'm ethnically Chinese Australian.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well actually bother isn’t the right word and I've edited the post to say what I actually meant (thanks James for the explanation of the studio system and how it affected casting). It doesn't bother me in older movies the way it would in a recent one and the reason for this is due to representation and the fact that the there are more opportunities for hiring non-Anglo/Western European actors today than in the decades when these movies were made. The Eleanor example is entirely different because it's possible for a person to stop being royal by abdicating/marrying a non-royal and refusing a title while they can't change their race or ethnicity that easily. If I got plastic surgery on my eyelids it wouldn't change the fact that I'm ethnically Chinese Australian.

 

On the topic of The Desert Song itself; I noticed the filmmakers of the 1943 and 1953 versions made the Riffs nomads like the Tuareg.

 

And here's a review of the 1929 movie.

 

 

This topic is often discussed.    I feel anyone should be cast as long as the actor can pull off the role (i.e. appear authentic).    The job of an actor is to play a part,  so they don't have to be ethnically the same as the character as long as they can appear authentic in doing so.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is it just me who finds Azuri slightly sympathetic in the 1929 movie? After all, Captain Fontaine rejected her for Margot... I think the 1953 movie seems a bit weird based on how it distorts the story so that the Red Shadow/El Khobar is fighting for the French instead of against them.

 

And here's a review of the 1929 movie.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9A03E7DE1230E33ABC4A53DFB3668382639EDE

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Speaking of the 1953 version of "The Desert Song", it is scheduled to be shown in Nov.  Gordon MacRae & Kathryn Grayson are the leads--both could sing (even if Grayson was too shrill for my liking)--so check the film out if you haven't seen it. :)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us