Sunday, January 21, 2018
The Desert Hawk (1950)
Ignore the opening voiceover that tells you the story happened 2,000 years ago. In fact this is obviously the world of Islam. It’s a kind of Arabian Nights tale but with no supernatural elements or monsters.
The beautiful Princess Scheherazade (an obvious nod to the Arabian Nights) is betrothed to Prince Murad (George Macready). Prince Murad is a bit of a tyrant, in fact he’s an out-and-out villain and his tax collectors have been oppressing the common people. His tyranny is being challenged however, by a man known only as the Desert Hawk. No-one knows his real identity but when not adventuring he works as a humble blacksmith under the name of Omar. The Desert Hawk is very much a Robin Hood figure, which is rather appropriate since Richard Greene went on to play Robin Hood in the celebrated British TV series.
She is more than a little displeased by this development. Her life is about to get even more complicated. There are nefarious plots afoot and the princess is kidnapped, but she swapped clothes with one of her handmaidens so the kidnappers have the wrong girl. Meanwhile Scheherazade herself, whom they assume to be merely a handmaiden, is to be sold at the slave market.
There’s a good mix of action and romance and there’s some comedy as well. Fortunately there’s not too much of the comic relief and what there is is quite amusing. There are the obligatory narrow escapes from death.
George Macready is a fine villain. Look out for Rock Hudson is a supporting role. Had this movie been made a couple of years later he would undoubtedly have landed the lead role.
Frederick De Cordova was a solid journeyman director who had something of a flair for adventure movies. He keeps things moving along very nicely.
Simply Media’s Region 2 DVD release is barebones but it offers a very good transfer. The colours look terrific.
The Desert Hawk is definitely an above-average movie of its type with enough plot twists to keep things interesting and a very good cast. Swashbuckling fans and admirers of Yvonne de Carlo won’t want to miss this one. Highly recommended.