The Desert Song is a 1943 American musical film. It was directed by Robert Florey and starred Dennis Morgan, Irene Manning and Bruce Cabot. It is based on the 1926 operetta with music by Sigmund Romberg. It was nominated an Academy Award for Best Art Direction (Charles Novi, Jack McConaghy).
This film version of the operetta was, like the 1929 film version, almost never seen after its original release. Copies were hard to come by. In 2014, it was released on DVD by Warner Brothers
Technically the film is more sophisticated than the earlier film due to its large budget and advances in both sound and color. It tries to make the operetta topical in terms of World War II, by having the outlaw hero with a dual identity fight the Nazis as well as Arabs. As in the 1953 film, the hero's name is changed to El Khobar, rather than the Red Shadow.
The 1943 Desert Song is perhaps the only instance in which a stage operetta of the 1920s has been updated to reflect topical concerns of the 1940s. In fact, the U.S. United States Office of War Information held up release of the film for a year due to the shifting political position of France. It did well at the box office nonetheless.
This is the first film version of The Desert Song to be made in full three-strip Technicolor.
Dennis Morgan as Paul Hudson/ El Khobar
Irene Manning as Margot
Bruce Cabot as Col. Fontaine
Lynne Overman as Johnny Walsh
Gene Lockhart as Pere FanFan
Faye Emerson as Hajy
Victor Francen as Caid Yousseff
Curt Bois as François
Jack La Rue as Lt. Bertin
Marcel Dalio as Tarbouch