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Drums of the Desert

USA 1940
produced by
Paul Malvern for Monogram
directed by George Waggner
starring Ralph Byrd, Lorna Gray, George Lynn, Willy Castello, Mantan Moreland, Jean Del Val, Ann Codee, Boyd Irwin, Neyle Morrow (as Neyle Marx), Alberto Morin, Jack Chefe, Bud Harrison
written by Dorothy Reid, Joseph West, based on a story by John T.Neville, music by Edward J.Kay

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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On the boat to his command with the foreign legion in Algeria, Major Paul Dumont (Ralph Byrd) meets Helene (Lorna Gray), & before long the 2 fall in love & spend some wonderful nights together. But withthe ship arriving at its destination, Helene disappears. It is not until Paulo reaches at the fort he is supposed to work at that he meets her again - as the fiancee of Jean (George Lynn), his best friend & colleague at the fort. Paul's heart is broken, so he covers himself in work, & his job is to train the Senegalese parachute detachment, where most of the soldiers, natives but led by Harlem bred Blue Williams (Mantan Moreland), have never seen an airplane, let alone a parachute.

Eventually though he makes good soldiers of them, but when they have a manoeuvre in the open desetrt, the neighbouring bedouines feel provoked, & the very same night attack the camp of the parachute command, badly wounding Jean in the process. But one of them, Ben ali (Neyle morrow) is captured & sentenced to death ... but he was unluckily the brother of sheikh Abdullah (William Castello), who wants peace at any price ... but not the price of his brother.

Meanwhile, Helene, in love with 2 men, has requested a meeting with Paul at fortuneteller Hassan's (Alberto Morin) place, but once there she has to find out that Hassan is not only a fortune teller but also delivers weapons to Abdullah & his men. Hassan takes her captive though, & Paul as well when he arrives, & Abdullah promptly sentences them to death (but postpones tha actual exectuion).

Meanwhile, Jean, still in his sickbed, has on one side learned that Helene is secretly in love with Paul, & on the other hand that both she & Paul have gone to Hassan but never returned. So he, always a friend, fetches the Senegalese parachuters, first goes to Hassan's place where they seize the weapons & torture one of his henchmen to learn the whereabouts of Paul & Helene, then they, by airplane, attack Abdullah's place, & - you guessed it - the still sick Jean dies a hero's death but Paul & Helene are freed, & in the end they marry.


By bno means a great film, but an hour of good-natured entertainment, a bit of a cross between war-film, drama, romance & comedy, which works reasonably well. Mantan Moreland, one of the few black comedians who had a career in white movies (as wellas black movies), plays an unusually serious role here. At one point he is even seen torturing a man, with quite some delight.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD