Hafiz, a rascally beggar on the periphery of the court of Baghdad, schemes to marry his daughter to royalty and to win the heart of the queen of the castle himself. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Life Magazine reported that Marlene Dietrich had her legs painted with four coats of gold paint, and her hair sprinkled with powdered gold for her exotic dance number. See more »
[Referring to Hafiz's daughter, Marsinah]
You think she's going to wither away waiting for your fairy tales to come true?
She's waiting for her fate in all its splendor.
The fate for a beggar's daughter is a camel boy.
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William Dieterle directing, music by Harold Arlen (there's even a tiny bit of the Witch's Guard music at one point!), opulent sets and gorgeous costumes, Ronald Colman -- what more could anyone ask?
The film was very carefully crafted. Even the bit players -- especially Henry Davenport and Florence Bates -- were perfect. From the beginning, you are immersed in a magical world, an Iraq that died long ago, the Islam of Arabian Nights and Haroun el-Raschid, a romantic culture with its own philosophies and mysteries. Karsha foretelling the future with a sand reading, the muezzin and his apprentice singing the call to prayer, or the public bathing place that the rascals hide in, give the film a sense not only of unity and atmosphere but of meticulous attention to detail.
Dietrich's character was not Greek but Macedonian (like Alexander the Great, another blonde). I could have stood for more authenticity in her dance (especially after the Kraft girls who preceded her -- their Deva Dasi style dance *was* pretty authentic) and that gold paint was a little much. Still, the idea was that Jamilla was wild, and did unconventional things.
I do see where it could have been better. Craig in particular sounds jarringly "modern". But you forget that after a while. Modern films don't present this kind of idealism. We have to have everything brought down to sordid reality. A thing like this is good for you after too much "realism" gunk.
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