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A Bedouin princess returns to Bagdad after being educated in England, only to find that her father has been treacherously murdered by the head of the Black Robes, a group of renegades. She is hosted by the Pasha, who is the corrupt representative of the national government. She is also courted by Prince Hassan, who is falsely accused of the murder. The plot revolves around her attempts to bring the killer to justice while being courted by the Pasha. Written by
I'm not leaving, your going to ride to my people. It's dangerous for you here.
If I leave How will you keep the soldier entertained? Will you dance for them? And Sing?
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Bagdad is a Hollywood B movie from the 1940's that was given an unusually generous budget which covered its production in Technicolor as well as the services of three actors already recognised as stars, Vincent Price, Maureen O'Hara and John Sutton. This presumably indicates the Studio bosses who approved production felt they had a better than average script, capable of generating a very successful movie. More realistically, the script was the turkey that prevented real success and with less generous budgetary decisions it would have sunk without trace within a few months of its release.
Four extant IMDb User Comments on this film point out that Maureen O'Hara did not look like a Turkish Princess, an Arabian, an Iraqi, or a Bedouin Arab. These commentators were right in all four cases, she looked like the pale skin, redheaded Caucasian beauty she actually was. But two interesting observations follow - firstly the story in this film was so confused that, even among the relatively few comments already on this database, her character has been assigned four different nationalities; and secondly it seems strange the production budget could not even cover the cost of darkening her hair and skin (or that of co-stars Vincent Price , Paul Christian and John Sutton) - surely a minimal demand for the make-up department. Such discrepancies abound throughout this film and rob it of any validity as a serious work. Its setting is the pre-World War I Ottoman empire, but the language is (erratically) similar to the high society English of the early Georgian period and does not match the story any better than the makeup. The stars all appear to have been well aware of these deficiencies and, recognising that the film would almost certainly finish up being classified as a turkey, they decided not to attempt to compensate for them, but instead to overact outrageously -chewing up the scenery in grand style so that a fun time could be had by all. This type of film usually disappears quickly and totally soon after its release; instead Bagdad is still with us (both as a VHS tape and periodically on cable television) because they did this so effectively that, once we have accepted exactly what is being presented, we can still settle down and have a lot of fun watching it once in a while.
It has been said this was Maureen O'Hara first real starring role. Most of her fans would not accept this, but it was one that provided her with an exceptional opportunity which she seized with both hands and feet. Not only beautiful but active and athletically graceful, she is a pleasure to watch. Her fiery temperament only adds to the fun, and watching her outwit all her very threatening adversaries probably appeals to most children of all ages. Vincent Price, as the deadliest of these, plays up to her as only he can. Overall this may not be the most convincing recipe for creating a collectible film, but after accepting its limitations (and with appropriate acknowledgments to some excellent work behind the camera) I must recognise that in this instance it appears to have largely succeeded. For me, a VCD of 'Bagdad' remains a minor but still enjoyable part of my home video collection, even though NOT to be found among my historical films.
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