Article 2708 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-2-2008
Posting Date: 1-11-2009
Directed by Vincente Minnelli and Stanley Donen
Featuring Howard Keel, Ann Blyth, Dolores Gray
A poet is mistaken for a great magician by the Wazir, who plans to use his abilities to keep the Caliph from marrying.
I thought the 1944 version of this movie was basically a piece of fluff with only the mildest of fantastic elements (the main character did some magic tricks). Here it is, transformed into a truly ordinary musical, even fluffier and with even less fantastic content; the main character is a poet who is mistaken for a magician, though he does no overt magic. Yes, it has “Stranger in Paradise”, but so does FIRE MAIDENS FROM OUTER SPACE. A few character actors brighten things up a little; Sebastian Cabot plays the Wazir, Monty Woolley is Omar, Jack Elam plays Hassan-Ben, and Mike Mazurki plays a guard; incidentally, none of these people do any of the singing. At least Dolores Gray doesn’t seem as out of place as Marlene Dietrich seemed in the earlier version.