Legend of the Lost
by Henry Hathaway


USA (New York City, Capitol Theater) - December 17, 1957 - Legend of the Lost - 108'
UK (London) - March 2, 1958 - Legend of the Lost - 108'
Italy - March 2, 1958 Timbuctù
West Germany - April 5, 1958 -  Stadt der Verlorenen - 109'
France (Paris) - July 2, 1958 - La cité disparue
Spain - 1958 - Arenas de muerte - 109'

Spanish poster German poster Italian poster American DVD


Paul Bonnard arrives in Timbuktu, a village in northern Africa, in search of a guide to go looking for a city in the desert where, according to his father’s testimony, a fabulous treasure is buried. He finds the guide he wants in Joe January, a strange type of adventurer. As they go into the desert, they are joined bya young woman who wants to accompany Paul on the dangerous journey. The progress of the three continues with rivalry and uneasiness, and finally they reach the forgotten city. Here Paul disco vers a sad truth: his father was not the idealist he had thought him to be, and this disturbs the young man’s mind and spirit. Doubtful of Joe’s loyalty and that of the girl, Paul abandons them, leaving them neither food, nor water, nor ammunition. After an exhausting pursuit, the two catch up with Paul and shoot him down. A caravan saves the two survivors. (Enrico Lancia)
Story and screenplay by Robert Presnell, Jr. and Ben Hecht.


Cinecittà, Rome (Italy)
Ghadames, Leptis Magna ruins, Tripoli (Libya)


Filming dates: January 3 – March 1957

Sophia leaves Rome on January 2 for desert of Libya and is back
 for the interior scenes on March 7.
Shooting of studio scenes at Cinecittà starts on March 13.




John Wayne (Joe January)

Sophia Loren (Nita)

Rossano Brazzi (Paul Bonnard)


Photography (Technicolor, Technirama):

Jack Cardiff
Angelo F. Lavagnino
Costume design:
Gaia Romanini
Sophia's Double:
Scilla Gabel
Still photographers:
Pierluigi Praturlon, Ken Danvers, Loomis Dean, Phil Stern
Sophia's voice:
German (Marion Dagler), Spanish (María Romero)
Henry Hathaway & Robert Haggiag for United Artists (Los Angeles)
Batjac Productions (Panama) - Dear Films (Rome)


One night Sophia has a near-death experience resulting from a faulty heater in the flimsy motel where she and the whole crew are staying. She is intoxicated by the carbon monoxide fumes but manages to crawl to the door, unlock it, and get into the hallway before she loses consciousness and is discovered by co-star Rossano Brazzi.

Sophia's cachet for the movie is $ 200,000 for the movie whose working title is Legend of Tombouctou and Man of Timbuktu.

Carlo does not go to Libya and Sophia, 22, is left alone with a crowd of men. Crew members speculate about an affair between Sophia and both Rossano Brazzi and cinematographer Jack Cardiff.

Sophia, as Dita, is described as a "slave girl" to accommodate the Hollywood censorship code but she is apparently one of the town whores from the way she struts around.

Marcello Mastroianni visits Sophia while she is at Cinecittà. They had not seen each other since the making of La fortuna di essere donna.

The crew works out of an oasis town 400 miles south of Tripoli. Water is a great problem as thousands of gallons have to flown in. "It didn't bother me", says Sophia, "I like wine with my meals.


"I was greatly impressed with Sophia's diligence and the fact that she was never late during our rugged three months of production in Libya. She was a godd actress - and she has the most expressive eyes I've ever seen."
John Wayne.

"Although Signorina Loren's charms are partly covered by a tattered, burnoose-like dress, she manages enough moodiness, anger and passion to justify some of the attention she gets from her companions."
A.H. Weiler, New York Times, 23 dec 1957

"Sophia achieves an image which suits the character she plays, and at certain moments reminds us of the fiery Jennifer Jones in Duel in the Sun: Legend of the Lost is her best test since she began working with the big American film industry."
Stefano Masi, Sophia.

"The film is a full-blown tribune to the full-blown charms of Loren."

“A joy to the eye and ear... Sophia Loren is a little bundle of frenzied passion."
Alton Cook, New York-World Telegram and Sun, Oakland Tribune, 24 apr 1955

Copyrights for all photos belong to their respective owners.
© Excelsior Communication - 2007

The Sophia Loren Archives
(click here if you don't see top menu)