(director: William Nigh; screenwriters: story by John T. Neville & Dale Van Every/Willis Goldbeck; cinematographer: James Wong Howe; editor: Harry Reynolds; music: William Axt; cast: John Gilbert (Hugh Rand), Ernest Torrence (Lord Stonehill), Mary Nolan (Lady Diana Stonehill); Runtime: 62; MPAA Rating: NR; producer:  William Nigh; MGM/WB Archive Collection; 1929-silent/b/w)

“Left me cold in the desert.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Prolific American filmmaker William Nigh (“Born Rich”/”Stage Struck”) directs this silent romantic desert B-film adapted from a story by John T. Neville & Dale Van Every, and has a screenplay by Willis Goldbeck. It asks the question
“Is there honor among thieves?”

This is the legendary romantic MGM lead performer John Gilbert’s last silent feature, who will have no success in talkies (because of voice issues and being in mediocre films) and die in 1936 of a heart attack.

Diamond thieves posing as a father and daughter, British Lord and Lady Stonehill (Ernest Torrence & Mary Nolan), trick the South African Crown Diamond Mines manager, Hugh Rand (John Gilbert), into taking them to the office vault where from a tray the posers steal uncut diamonds worth in the millions. The thieves escape across the Calhari Desert and take Rand as a hostage. When unable to cross the desert alone, they implore Rand to help and when he consents release him from his shackles to get them to safely across the desert.

The unconvincing ending, where Rand falls for a reformed Nolan, left me cold in the desert.

Desert Nights with John Gilbert Mary Nolan and
        unsurprisingly good Ernest Torrence as loathsome character

REVIEWED ON 7/22/2022  GRADE: C+