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Pete Johnson and Harvey D. Garvey, two inept magicians on tour in the Middle Eastern kingdom of Barabeeha, help disenfranchised young Prince Ramo regain his throne from his devious Uncle Nimativ, who uses two magical hypnotic rings and ruthless methods to maintain his power. By posing as Hollywood talent scouts the boys break out of a dank dungeon with a deranged derelict, evade palace guards, elude the palace executioner, and avoid detection in the forbidden royal harem. Written by
Gabe Taverney (email@example.com)
Overseas program #820 for U.S. troops during the war. See more »
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Not great...but watchable like most Abbott and Costello films.
Like MGM's previous Abbott and Costello film, RIO RITA, LOST IN A HAREM has a sound and feel to it that is indicative of being filmed in a sound stage with lots of echo--an odd choice for a desert film. As a result, the film has a certain artificial and claustrophobic feel to it. Why MGM wouldn't take this immensely popular comedy team (one of the biggest box office draws of the era) and put them in a higher quality film is a mystery. MGM had a habit of misusing comedy teams--particularly in the post-Irving Thalberg era.
Now this doesn't mean that they cut lots of corners indoors, but what they did do wasn't exactly crowd-pleasing. These musical numbers were even more lavish than those in the Universal Pictures films the team made and starred Jimmy Dorsey and his famous orchestra--in the desert. All these songs didn't give the fans what they wanted--more Abbott and Costello. As a result, their three MGM films failed to make the money the studio had expected.
Despite these shortcomings, the film does have some laughs. While far from sophisticated, the prison skits with the seriously crazy cell-mate are pretty funny and are based on old Vaudeville routines--particularly the 'Pokomoko' skit. In fact, it was done in other films and by other comedy teams (such as The Three Stooges)--and was probably done by other comedy teams long before Abbott and Costello. Murray Leonard was very funny (though far from subtle) in these routines and worked well with the team.
As for the plot, it's a bit silly and unfortunately also has the formulaic lady and her love interest (who really do little in the way of plot or comedy). In this case, a beautiful blonde just happens to be in this desert country and the boys are trying to help her escape back to America. Unfortunately, there is an evil usurper (Douglass Dumbrille--who was pretty funny in a cartoony way) who has taken the throne and uses his cool hypno-rings to make people do his bidding. He immediately is taken by the blonde and the boys get caught up in a plot by the rightful monarch (is this an oxymoron?) to get the hypno-rings--helping him and the rebels to depose Dumbrille. Naturally, much of the film consists of the boys running about the palace and trying to avoid being executed.
Whether you like this film will depend a lot on whether or not you find these antics funny. Abbott and Costello fans will clearly find enough to merit watching, though those not familiar with the duo might find this hard-going, as the film is watchable but far from their best.
3 of 5 people found this review helpful.
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