Lewis Allen’s 1947 film Desert Fury is pretty dumb. It revolves a fairly nonsensical relationship between a gambler and general lowlife (John Hodiak) and the rather dumb and wild daughter (Lizabeth Scott) of another gambler and general lowlife (Mary Astor). The thing about the films of this era is that they didn’t even try to establish chemistry between the leads before they fell in hopeless and destructive love. Occasionally–Bogart and Bacall for example–it actually worked. Usually, the writers would throw some witty double entendres in there with a big thunderstorm or something and love is born. This was the latter. It’s just not a credible story. What makes it interesting is that it is an early appearance by Burt Lancaster as a cop who is in love with the Scott character and because Mary Astor turns a really bleh role into a great performance that far outpaces anyone else in the film. The Astor scenes basically are the reason to watch this today. Traditionally, I haven’t been a huge Astor fan. The biggest weakness of The Maltese Falcon is that she and Bogart have no chemistry and you can’t figure out why he would fall in love with her. But she’s great here.
Here’s the trailer.