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Dennis Morgan's THE DESERT SONG?


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#1 of 37 RobertGr

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Posted May 11 2007 - 03:38 PM

I am sending this out to all the amazing film historians on this very awesome board including Joe Caps, Steve O and Robert Harris and Robert Crawford and everyone whom might know about THE DESERT SONG starring Dennis Morgan.

I have never had the chance to see this film but from sources I have read over the years the film is a minor classic which sadly I think is in legal rights hell (Hey Mr. Feltenstein is that issue being resolved?). Has anyone here seen this Technicolor films and is it worth ever releasing on dvd?


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#2 of 37 Drew Salzan

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Posted May 12 2007 - 01:19 AM

Warner Home Video has the rights to all three versions (1929, 1942 and 1953). A box set would be great. Same goes for all three versions of Showboat, which I believe is being planned for next year.

#3 of 37 Joe Caps

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Posted May 12 2007 - 01:33 AM

As I understand it, there is a film element problem with the Dennis MOrgan version. There is no negative. The Negative was cut up and desert scenes inserted into the Gordon Macrae version. I wish that version would show up on dvd. Its on vhs with really good color and sound.

#4 of 37 Corey

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Posted May 12 2007 - 01:51 AM

so is the copy just in bad shape?
Corey's most wanted R1 dvds:

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#5 of 37 Matt Hough

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Posted May 12 2007 - 01:58 AM

I didn't even know there WAS a version with Dennis Morgan! Wow!

#6 of 37 RobertGr

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Posted May 12 2007 - 02:33 AM

Hey Joe that is interesting on the o-neg, I do not remember where I heard it though it must have been on the net a few years back about films MIA and THE DESERT SONG with Dennis Morgan was one of them and the reason being a music rights problem. A interesting story, years ago before Turner bought MGM and cut it up into pieces and kept only the film library I had a close friend at MGM in their NYC office. He was always telling me stories about films in limbo and he was telling me that they were trying to get ANNIE GET YOUR GUN approval from Irving Berlin whom had refused to let the film be reissued. For years the story was that in was Politcally Incorrect depiction of the American Indians that were keeping it out of circulation. In reality the main reason was Irving Berlin was pissed at MGM for killing what was to be Arthur Freed's and Berlin's swan song musical extravaganza in the late 1960's.

My source had told me "the minute Irving Berlin passes away we are going to be all over ANNIE GET YOUR GUN." Well that seems to have been the case as we did finally see the film's dvd release a few years after Berlin's death."


I look forward to the next GREAT Warner chat on this AWESOME site and being able to ask George Feltenstein about THE DESERT SONG!

#7 of 37 Leo Kerr

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Posted May 12 2007 - 04:47 AM

If you want to make 'em cringe, ask 'em about the 1929 version, too.

I've recently seen a VHS print, and it's down-right scary!

It'd be nice to know which parts of it were shot in two-strip Technicolour, though; we haven't been able to find that out yet.

Leo

#8 of 37 Charles H

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Posted May 12 2007 - 06:10 AM

Although awfully stilted, the 1953 DESERT SONG has great photography by Robert Burks and MacRae is in good voice. There is also a 20 minute Vitaphone adaptation called "The Red Shadow."
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#9 of 37 RobertGr

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Posted May 12 2007 - 01:13 PM

I just read the review from the NY TIMES reviewer when the Dennis Morgan THE DESERT SONG was released and it got a rave review from the NY TIMES Star reviewer of the era Mr. Bosley Crowther.

It makes it clear that this film based on a number of comments on it is indeed a fun picture and a great technicolor film that should see a dvd release. Hopefully someone from Warners is reading this and can tell us what the status is of the gem of a film!


I quote the NY TIMES REVIEW

"this brash and gaudy picture is relaxing entertainment and spirited fun, with a great deal of colorful action in odorous cafes and on the burning desert sands."

#10 of 37 Rod J

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Posted May 12 2007 - 03:39 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drew Salzan
Same goes for all three versions of Showboat, which I believe is being planned for next year.

Unfortunately, year after year, it's ALWAYS "next year".. Posted Image

At least we have the laserdiscs..

#11 of 37 Corey

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Posted May 12 2007 - 03:48 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rod J
Unfortunately, year after year, it's ALWAYS "next year".. Posted Image

At least we have the laserdiscs..

maybe we'll get it in 2011 for it's 60th anniversarry.
Corey's most wanted R1 dvds:

Little Darlings (1980), My Cousin Rachel (1952), The Deep Blue Sea (1955), The White Cliffs of Dover (1944), Born to Be Bad (1950), Ivy (1947), Reckless (1935), Springtime in the Rockies (1942), The Barretts of Wimpole Street

#12 of 37 Matt Hough

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Posted May 13 2007 - 02:30 AM

I'd love to see the 1929 John Boles version. I know it'd be primitive, but curiosity has the better of me. Has TCM ever shown it? They do occasionally show early talkies (RIO RITA, GOOD NEWS), but I'm not sure I've ever seen this one turn up.

#13 of 37 Corey

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Posted May 13 2007 - 03:42 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MattH.
I'd love to see the 1929 John Boles version. I know it'd be primitive, but curiosity has the better of me. Has TCM ever shown it? They do occasionally show early talkies (RIO RITA, GOOD NEWS), but I'm not sure I've ever seen this one turn up.

I hope they include the early version of Rio Rita with the A&C version.
Corey's most wanted R1 dvds:

Little Darlings (1980), My Cousin Rachel (1952), The Deep Blue Sea (1955), The White Cliffs of Dover (1944), Born to Be Bad (1950), Ivy (1947), Reckless (1935), Springtime in the Rockies (1942), The Barretts of Wimpole Street

#14 of 37 Leo Kerr

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Posted May 13 2007 - 06:29 AM

The VHS print I saw was from some "family entertainment" type name of low-budget distributer. Yes, it was a generic name like "family entertainment," I can't remember the actual text on the box, but the box was covered with early film posters, and was not unique to the tape. (The only unique branding was on the tape itself, which was just a black-n-white label on the spine.)

When the person I know called 'em to ask if they had it, their response was, "yeah, but do you really want this one?"

Leo

#15 of 37 Dan McW

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Posted May 13 2007 - 11:19 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MattH.
I'd love to see the 1929 John Boles version. I know it'd be primitive, but curiosity has the better of me. Has TCM ever shown it? They do occasionally show early talkies (RIO RITA, GOOD NEWS), but I'm not sure I've ever seen this one turn up.

Old threads on the TCM boards seem to indicate that the Gordon MacRae version is the only one they've ever shown, and even that's been a while. Some posters there are speculating that both earlier versions had to be shelved when the MacRae version was made, or that legal problems with an individual song are keeping the '43 version in limbo. Apparently dupes are floating about that were made from Irene Manning's personal film copy of the '43 version.

Here's a June 2004 reply by "tcmprogrammer" on the TCM boards to a request for the Dennis Morgan version:

"'The Desert Song'" has been tied up with underlying rights issues for many years; I do not know the exact issue, but it's a film that should be in our library but has been out of circulation since I've been here (a little over 6 years)."

#16 of 37 RobertGr

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Posted May 13 2007 - 12:08 PM

Hey Dan

Your post provides great info and jives with what I was told a few years back that it is a rights issue with the music. TCM and Warners has had a good record of bringing these titles back from oblivion example the lost RKO titles recently shwon on TCM and of course the very high profile ANNIE GET YOUR GUN. I would hope George Feltenstein whom I assume reads these boards will give us some answer to the question "will THE DESERT SONG starring Dennis Morgan ever be shown again?" All sources seem to indicate it is a very good and enjoyable film!

#17 of 37 Mike*HTF

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Posted May 13 2007 - 04:26 PM

I thought this was a great little film. I remember making a deal with the devil to have a dupe made from a washed out 16mm print held by a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend as a birthday present to my mother years ago. While the video quality was nearly unwatchable, the film itself was quite fun and I thought it was better than the MacRae version (especially the songs). There were other VHS copies of the Morgan version around and I recall that it was something of a collector's item in LA in the late 90s at least. I'm fairly certain that at one time Eddie Brandt's had a loaner copy from Broadcast TV (KTLA w/ commercials!) dating from god only knows when.

#18 of 37 RobertGr

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Posted May 14 2007 - 10:10 AM

I sincerely wish George Feltenstein fill us in on why this title is MIA! The cleared ANNIE GET YOUR GUN so you would think they are agressively trying to clear the films that are theirs but are locked away. I think the same thing happened with SARATOGA TRUNK. If we cannot get an answer I will wait to Warner and this GREAT site host another chat as ask the question then!

#19 of 37 CineKarine

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Posted May 15 2007 - 12:27 AM

Would love to see the Dennis Morgan version too. As much as I enjoy the 1953 version with Gordon MacRae, the story was changed, the songs truncated and the staging stilted which is a shame because MacRae had - to my ears - the most beautiful voice ever to hit the screen. He did several radio adaptations of The Desert Song and recorded the entire score (in the early 50s and again in 1963) and his recordings are nothing short of magnificent. From what I know, he was very disappointed that the story was changed so much and disliked the film as a result. Even so, I would LOVE to have this film on DVD as a fan of MacRae, the lovely (but miscast) Kathryn Grayson and the breathtaking Romberg music.
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#20 of 37 DrPopi

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Posted August 14 2011 - 01:40 PM

I have seen the original 1943 Dennis Morgan version in the movies and a friend of mine loaned me a very blurry copy to copy, which I did and have. It is of very poor quality. I have waited years for the re-release of this dennis Morgan version. Hopefully the day will come.


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