Friday, 15 June 2012

Harem dancer: Have we seen Miss Jones?

This is from 1965 Italian cheapie Desert Raiders (aka Falcon of the Desert. The original Italian title, Il Dominatore del de Deserto, is rather more impressive), and comes with bonus Greek subtitles and terrible English overdubbing.

There's a very good reason why a lot of the dance clips from old movies I post are rare; they're from films that really sucked. Desert Raiders is a good example – it has an IMDB rating of 3 out of 10. Ouch. But I think this is nicely filmed (I particularly like the way you're made to feel as though you're moving through the crowd), and the dancer's costuming and demeanour are far more dignified than the usual cheesecake standard. This is reflected in the other odd thing about this clip: all of the dialogue in it is about Samira; both the respect shown by the men in the tavern towards her performance, her elegance, and how she is "different from every other dancer". It's quite rare to find a scene like this where the dancer is the focal point, rather than a break in the main action or a bit of set dressing.

One of the drawbacks of posting clips from Z-grade fare is that when these films disappear from the pop-culture landscape they often take the identities of their uncredited bit-part players with them. Such is the fate of today's harem dancer, who may or may not be Erika Jones. Erika herself was only ever credited in one film in which she appeared, so I defer to the arcane and encyclopaedic knowledge of the author of Peplums for her identification.

Desert Raiders sometimes crops up as late-night space filler on Maltese TV, because insomnia is a crime in Malta and this is the government's way of punishing sufferers.

[This post was edited on 16 June 2012.]

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