Desert Hawk (The)
R2 - United Kingdom - Simply Media
Review written by and copyright: Matthew Crossman (9th May 2016).
The Film

The people of Central Persia are being tormented by Prince Murad (George McCready) and his army. Murad demands taxes and loyalty from the people and ransacks and loots their villages and steals their women folk so that he can sell them on the slave market. The Desert Hawk/ Omar (Richard Greene) and his small band of followers are the only ones brave enough to stand up for the down trodden of Persia. The Desert Hawk travels the sandy dunes from village to caravan protecting those that fall prey to Murad's evil machinations. Because of this a large bounty has been placed on Omar's head but this does not deter him from righting the wrongs of the evil Prince. Not far away a Princess called Scheherazade (Yvonne de Carlo) awaits the arrival of Murad as her hand has been promised in marriage by her Father. One evening Murad arrives at Scheherazade's caravan and she is soon swept off her feet. Murad convinces Scheherazade to marry him that very night and she agrees. The next morning the Prince has disappeared, as have his men and her rather large dowry. Before this can be discovered the real Prince Murad arrives. The Princess has been duped by none other than The Desert Hawk and not only has he married her but he has stolen her riches too (and much more besides, it's implied). Furious, the Princess instructs the real Murad to hunt down The Desert Hawk and bring her his head. Meanwhile The Desert Hawk and his men are in the desert splitting up the gold pieces they have taken when they are tracked down by Murad and his men. The Desert Hawk manages to see off Murad's men and escape. Meanwhile, after learning about the 'Husband's' duplicity the Princess changes clothes with one of her hand maidens who is then murdered, mistaken for the Princess. The female servants, including Scheherazade are then rounded up to be sold at the slave market. The Desert Hawk learns of this and goes off to buy Scheherazade at the slave market but all the while Murad is stirring up trouble and lies to Scheherazade's Father about The Desert Hawk meaning that the Princess' Father entrusts Murad with the task of killing The Desert Hawk in return for plenty of real power in the region.

'The Desert Hawk' plays almost exactly as the older Zorro films did except they transplant the setting from Mexico to Persia instead. The titular character here is the self same 'freedom fighter', fighting for the causes of the little man and he just happens to be handsome, witty, brave and noble too. The plot is, at times, rather convoluted and does not bear up under too much scrutiny but works if they viewer just ignores the inconsistencies. I don't think 'The Desert Hawk' was ever meant to be hight art as such. The baddies are very bad (all bushy eyebrows and pointed beards) and the goodies are very good (all white teeth and winning smiles). Director Frederick de Cordova squeezes in as much romance, swashbuckling, and excitement as he possibly can within the film's 77 minute running time and even manages to included Jackie Gleeson and Joe Besser as the film's comic relief in the form of two characters called Sindad and Aladdin. Rock Hudson appears, looking quite youthful, as Captain Ras. The film has a definite 'Sunday Matinee' feel about it and there is nothing here that will offend anyone but plenty that will excite such as dark plots and sword fights. I imagine the film possibly felt dated even by it's release date of 1950 with only the implication of what would befall the majority of the female characters suggested at.

Video

Simply Media DVD presents the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Whilst the picture is, for the most part, free of scratches and blemishes, the image has a rather diluted look about it. Colours are rather drab and uninteresting and the whole film looks like it's been recorded through a filter. The outdoor/location sequences seem to suffer the most whilst the studio set scenes are a little brighter, but not by much. Despite this I do applaud Simply Media for raiding the Universal Studios vaults once again to bring us a little seen film like 'The Desert Hawk' and preventing it from disappearing altogether.

Audio

A simply dual mono soundtrack is all that is provided. As you would expect everything is centralised in regards to speakers but the disc still manages to deliver a clear, crisp soundtrack. There is nothing fancy going on here but it's perfectly acceptable. Once again Simply Media fails to provide any subtitles of any kind and personally I find this any thing but acceptable.

Extras

None.

Overall

'The Desert Hawk' is pretty unremarkable from countless other western/pirate/swashbuckling films of the time but it's still fairly solid entertainment none the less. The characters are drawn with the broadest of strokes and are fairly typical of the era. The direction is pretty typical too with static cameras and characters standing a couple feet from each other and simply reciting their lines. This all sounds like I did not enjoy the movie but I did, and you will too, as long as you remember that film techniques and methods have changed an awful lot in the past 66 years.

The Film: C+ Video: C Audio: C Extras: F Overall: C

 


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