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Arabian Nights

USA 1942
produced by
Walter Wanger for Universal
directed by John Rawlins
starring Sabu, Jon Hall, Maria Montez, Leif Erickson, Billy Gilbert, Edgar Barrier, Richard Lane, Turhan Bey, John Qualen, Shemp Howard, William 'Wee Willie' Davis, Thomas Gomez, Jeni Le Gon, Rogert Greig, Charles Coleman, Adia Kuznetzoff, Emory Parnell, Harry Cording, Robin Raymond, Carmen D'Antonio, Acquanetta
written by Michael Hogan, additional dialogue by True Boardman, music by Frank Skinner

Maria Montez & Jon Hall

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The rightful caliph Haroun al Rashid (Jon Hall) is overthrown by his evil brother Kamar (Leif Erickson), whose men hunt him down with the order to kill him - and he's only saved by an acrobat, Ali ben Ali (Sabu), who manages to fake Haroun's death and have him join his circus troupe, led by Ahmad (Billy Gilbert), without anybod recognizing him - especially after he has shaved off Haroun's beard.

The star of the circus troupe is Scheherezade (Maria Montez), a dancing girl, who incidently has caught the attention of Kamar, who intended to marry her - but she wanted to marry no one else but a caliph. Though she doesn't know Haroun is the rightful caliph, she falls in love with him anyways (and he with her) - but when she learns that Kamar has now taken over from his brother, she is determined to marry him, her love notwithstanding. Haroun meanwhile falls prey to Kamar's grand vizier who wants to usurp Kamar's throne and is almost killed by his henchmen, but ultimately, he can only just prevent the marriage between Kamar and Scheherezade and with his men whom Ali ben Ali has fetched from Allah-knows-where retake his throne. And as a reward for his efforts, he in the end gets the girl too.


The first film that brings together the popular wartime-escapist-romantic-adventure couple Jon Hall and Maria Montez - and though all the elements of their films are tidily in place, it's not a particularly good movie: The main attraction of this film seems to be Technicolor - it was the first film produced by Universal shot in that process -, and even watching this films decades after it was made, one can't but admit that its colours all fit the narration perfectly ... but apart from that, the film's shortcomings are more obvious than its merits: The story is way too convoluted and way too naive at the same time, it lacks the fairy tale elements that make your typical Arabian Nights-story so great (there is not one fantasy element in the whole film), and the adventure aspects of the film are constantly offset by its basic romantic plot - so much so that the role of young Sabu lacks any character motivation and he's little more than a cupid in human form.

Yet, despite this criticism, Arabian Nights caught on extremely well with the audiences, so much so that Universal produced five more Technicolor adventures starring Jon Hall and Maria Montez before the war's end, two of which also star Sabu ...


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD