Legend of the Lost (1957)

Legend of the Lost (1957)

“Nobody pays any attention to gold hunters in the desert – except the desert!”

A Saharan desert guide (John Wayne) accompanies a religious man (Rossano Brazzi) obsessed with finding a lost city his father discovered years ago. When a local prostitute (Sophia Loren) decides to join them, interesting love tangles ensue.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Deserts
  • Gold Seekers
  • Henry Hathaway Films
  • John Wayne Films
  • Love Triangle
  • Sophia Loren Films
  • Survival

Henry Hathaway directed, Ben Hecht co-scripted, and Jack Cardiff shot (in Technirama) this desert survival drama, shot on location near Tripoli. John Wayne plays — essentially, himself, as much of a stoic cowboy as ever; meanwhile, Loren is suitably beautiful yet sympathetic as a woman eager to turn her challenging past around, and Brazzi is an appropriately enigmatic third wheel.

Indeed, Brazzi’s character shifts over time are what primarily drive the narrative, which otherwise consists of LOTS of desert-survival scenes (as well as inevitable lust for Loren). To its credit, the creaky film never quite lags, even when the characters are faced time and again with similar variations on near-death; and the ending brings some interesting surprises. However, this one isn’t must-see viewing for anyone other than die-hard fans of the stars.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Jack Cardiff’s cinematography and fine on-location shooting

Must See?
No; you can skip this one unless you’re curious (or want to see Cardiff’s work).


One thought on “Legend of the Lost (1957)

  1. First viewing. Skip it; not even the great Cardiff’s admirable work can save this flick.

    Gee, I don’t think I’ve seen this much sand since ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. But after a first half that is just… ok, the second half settles into hard-and-fast tedium.

    Cardiff sometimes took on a project more for its visual possibilities than its actual script – and, here, he certainly exploited the possibilities when he could, believably (aside from some unfortunate sound-stage-bound settings). But the script – in co-writer Hecht’s trademark fashion – too often veers into writer’s dialogue as opposed to real people’s dialogue… which becomes tiresome all-too-soon.

    The overall effect is more-or-less a slog.

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