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Cecil B. DeMille
Marco Polo travels from Venice to Peking, where he quickly discovers spaghetti and gunpowder and falls in love with the Emperor's daughter. The Emperor Kublai Khan is a kindly fellow, but his evil aide Ahmed wants to get rid of Kublai Khan so he can be emperor, and to get rid of Marco Polo so he can marry the princess. Ahmed sends Marco Polo to the West to fight barbarians, but he returns just in time to save the day. Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Archie Mayo's 1938 "The Adventures of Marco Polo" is an odd film to watch. Even giving it the benefit of the doubt, this misguided attempt to bring the legendary figure to the screen doesn't quite make it. Not even by a stretch of the imagination can we believe that the Chinese inhabitants of Cathay could look like these actors on the screen.
John Cromwell and John Ford are not credited, but they must have been called as consultants to a losing enterprise that even these talented directors couldn't help fix. Robert Sherwood, a distinguished writer of better films, is responsible for writing the screen treatment, but frankly, his imprint is lacking in the finished product.
Of course, times have changed and no Hollywood producer would dare to give this type of "entertainment" to today's audiences because they would be seen as ridiculous, at best. The film came out at a time when audiences were less sophisticated and more willing to accept stories such as this one. Even for a film produced by Samuel Goldwyn, this production looks tacky. It's obvious the people behind this film either had budget problems, or they didn't get the right art directors to improve the film.
Gary Cooper, as Marco Polo, appears to be lost. The beautiful Sigrid Gurie is made out to look oriental to resemble this Princess Kukachin she is supposed to be. The only one that escapes the debacle is Basil Rathbone. His Ahmed is a villain, and he plays it with relish. George Truex, Alan Hale, H.B. Warner, are seen in minor roles.
Watch this film as a curiosity, but don't expect too much.
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