NOTE: This film marks the first use of 3-strip Technicolor by Universal!
Dancer Sherazade was told by the stars that she will become wife of the kalif in Bagdad. She tells Kamar, brother of kalif Haroun. He planned a coup d'etat, which failed at first, but supported by the wasir he finally succeeds. Haroun is injured and gets help from Ahmad's actor troupe, where he is nursed by Sherazade, who doesn't recognise him. When she hears that Kamar is looking for her she goes to him, but is sold with the complete troupe of actors to slavery. They're able to escape, but Haroun is still in danger. To save him, Sherazade agrees to poison Kamar, but Haroun tries to establish his rulership first.
I remember seeing this film when it appeared in 1942, during WWII, a time of tension and uncertainty. It was great escape. The villains were villainous, the heroes heroic. The drama was dramatic and the storyline warm and fuzzy. Seeing it on video has allowed me to revisit that past time when as a child the world was uncertain and it was possible to escape into a costume-splendoured fantasy where the hero gets the girl, saves the kingdom and justice is served.
The Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid
has his throne usurped by his evil brother Kamar, and finds himself thrown
in with a beautiful dancer and a troupe of performers.
The cast has Jon Hall, Maria Montez, and Sabu; now you know most of what there is to know about the movie. It also has Turhan Bey and Acquanetta. Far and away my favorite credits in the movie are for Aladdin (John Qualen, mostly known for playing Scandinavians) who spends most of the movie rubbing every lamp he can find, and Sinbad (Shemp Howard—yes, THAT Shemp Howard; did you think there was more than one?).
Theatrical Release: December 25th, 1942
DVD Review: Universal - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||Universal Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 6.24 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 2.0)|
The film is kind of a campy spectacle. I can see many enjoying it, but some with a tendency to cynicism should probably give it a pass. The image looks very good, better than I was anticipating. Universal's first use of 3-strip Technicolor is not overblown and gaudy, but rather muted and subdued. I was very impressed. Sharpness is relatively strong but there are some minor damage marks in the form of dirt and light scratches (not many though). Audio is consistent and acceptable. There are English only subtitles offered.
Robert Osborne (TCM) gives a brief introduction and there is a trailer. The film doesn't really warrant any further attention, but as a fun fantasy, although dated, shows itself to be enjoyable at times. Hardcore Arabian-Nights/ Sherazade/ Ali-Baba aficionados won't be impressed, but the kid in you might.