- X 2019
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
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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.
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 ...