Yasmani, That's My Baby
21 November 2007 | by bkoganbing (Buffalo, New York)
Most of the time criticism about film remakes will usually run to 'not as good as the original' and most time it isn't. In this case the 1953 remake of this story that Henry King did starring Tyrone Power was miles superior to this early sound feature.
Later on Victor McLaglen got back to colonial India in better features like Gunga Din and Wee Willie Winkie also for John Ford. The only distinction this film has is it is John Ford's first talkie and it's a good thing someone decided to give him another chance.
Neither film is true to the original novel by Talbot Mundy. This version takes place on the eve of World War I as the famed Scottish Black Watch Regiment is in their mess having a last blowout before leaving for the front. During the course of the good times, Captain Victor McLaglen is sent for.
He's been brought up in India, knows Hindustani, Pushtu, and all the languages of that key area of the Khyber Pass. They've got an assignment for him. He's to let it get around that he used some pull to get that transfer to India so that folks will think him a coward. Then when he gets to India with the rumors flying, he's to desert and infiltrate the camp of a nasty group of rebels who are being led by a white Princess Yasmani, played by Myrna Loy.
So with trusty Moslem aide Mitchell Lewis, McLaglen does just that and of course Loy falls for him in just about the same way that Madeline Kahn fell for Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles. In fact this film didn't need John Ford, it could have been a Mel Brooks triumph if it had been worked right.
But it wasn't a comedy, or at least an intentional one. By the way Loy is a descendant of Alexander the Great and because she was white it would be OK for McLaglen and her to do some kanoodling. Got to think of that southern market. She's also got Roy D'Arcy and Walter Long in her camp panting good and hard after her also, but when she sees McLaglen, it's just like Little and Kahn.
By the way, I couldn't quite figure out what these rebels were. They seemed to have aspects of both the Moslem and Hindu religion there. Certainly in Islam you wouldn't have a woman at the head of things in what is a traditional Islam movement. I attribute that to incredibly sloppy research.
John Ford gets his innings in during the Scottish Mess Hall scenes at the beginning and end of the film. Otherwise you'd hardly know it was a film of his.
And the biggest story of the film is the early sound recording picked up McLaglen saying Loy's character name of Yasmani as Yes, Minnie. Purportedly they edited it out because of the hoots it got during the premiere. I did hear one Yasmani come out of McLaglen and it could have been a Yes, Minnie. Myrna and her friends thought it was hilarious for the next 64 years of her life, her good friends called her Minnie.
John Wayne and Randolph Scott are supposed to be extras in this and they could have been. But I searched in vain for them.
Better their names not be attached to this one.