Desert Nights was the last silent film made by MGM's resident heartthrob John Gilbert -- and the last of his truly successful efforts. The melodramatic plot revolves around the robbery of a diamond mine, masterminded by Steve (Ernest Torrence). The criminals have taken Rand (Gilbert), the mine's manager, hostage, spiriting him off to the desert waste. Hopelessly lost, Steve turns to Rand, who knows the territory like the back of his hand, to lead the crooks back to civilization. Rand refuses but relents for the sake of Steve's partner-in-crime Diana (Mary Nolan). A spectacular climactic sandstorm effectively eliminates the villain and facilitates a happy ending for Rand and Diana. Likewise spectacular was the precipitous fall from popularity of John Gilbert after it was revealed that his voice, though pleasant enough, did not match his dashing screen image -- but this revelation was still several months in the future when Desert Nights was released.
by Hal Erickson synopsis