The Magic Carpet (1951)

Article #1376 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-20-2004
Posting Date: 5-19-2005
Directed by Lew Landers
Featuring Lucille Ball, John Agar, Patricia Medina

When a caliph is assassinated and a usurper takes his place at the throne, the original heir to the throne is spirited away on a flying carpet. Years later, the heir becomes a hero known as The Scarlet Falcon intent on removing the usurper from the throne.

This Arabian Nights epic never really gels; it either takes itself too seriously or not seriously enough; it depends on whether you consider the darker scenes (the torture sequence, the murder of the caliph and his family) or the lighter scenes (the hiccups sequence in particular) to be the ones that don’t belong. At any rate, there wouldn’t be much of interest to this one if it weren’t for the cast, but even the cast is a problem. John Agar does all right with the action scenes (and he seems to be having fun with them) but in the scenes where he’s supposed to be charming and sexy (such as the scene where the women of the harem flirt with him), he’s humorously wooden. And whatever her reputation as one of the greatest of television’s comedic actresses, Lucille Ball is so unconvincing as an Arabian Princess that she’s a major distraction; at least if she had been given the Patricia Medina role, she might have had a little comic shtick to do. I just read a piece of trivia that said that this movie was designed as a punishment to Lucille Ball for complaining about the quality of the roles she was getting, and I find this quite believable. Still, any movie in which Lucille Ball flirts with both John Agar and Raymond Burr is one that’s hard to ignore.

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