There are some big names associated with this film.
First of all the script was written by Robert Presnell, Jr. & Ben Hecht.
I don't know very much about the former but as for Ben Hecht - he was considered one of Hollywood's greatest writers. Look up his resume sometime and it reads like a roll call of the most beloved films in Hollywood history: Scarface, Design For Living, Wuthering Heights, Notorious, Legend of The Lost - well...I guess they can't be all winners.
A wealthy frenchman, Paul Bonnard (played by Italian Rossano Brazzi) arrives at a dusty desert town called Timbucktu. He is in search of the best guide to lead him into the heart of the Sahara desert. The best guide happens to be - no, not some native guy who lived there all his life...but an american guy, Joe January (Marion Mo...err, John Wayne). He's much more louder & boisterous than any native guy anyway.
It seems Monsieur Bonnard knows the whereabouts of a long lost city somewhere in the middle of the desert. His long lost father had apparently been there years before and left instructions for his son on how to find it. How a long lost father could send instructions to his son - I do not know - but it sounds good. There are some things in this film that doesn't make too much sense - so don't dwell on them too much if you wanna enjoy this film.
Monsieur Bonnard instructs Mr. January to gather supplies for the arduous trek.
Bonnard visits the local brothel, in the meantime, and ends up with Timbucktu's fave lady of the evening, Dita (Sophia Loren - another Italian). Mr. January finds Bonnard & Dita talking religion the next morning. Seeing the unused bed, January quips "...struck out, huh. Let's mosey. You wanna scrub up Dita's soul - it may take some time..."
Dita shoots back: "Go...laugh at me...because Monsieur has been talking to me all night as if I were a human being, you desert pig!"
Between Bonnard talking lost city, January making disparaging remarks about Dita...and Dita calling January "a dirty pig"...well, you get the idea how the dialogue goes for the rest of the film.
Cinematographer Jack Cardiff lensed this and did a wonderful job too. The photography really is the highlight of this film - showing the beauty of the high african desert a good 5 years before Lawrence of Arabia. The print that I saw (broadcast on MGM-HD channel) was very pristine. Technicolor never looked any better, methinks.
Even with the star power of a John Wayne and a Sophia Loren - they really didn't have too much chemistry together in this. This being their only film together - I suppose other people thought as much also...
Nothing much happens in this film...or rather, nothing worth remembering anyway.
The story kind of reminds me a bit of The Treasure of The Sierra Madre.
Well, actually - not really. I take it back. The Treasure of The Sierra Madre a much richer viewing experience.