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Well, let's not forget that's also one more Sam Katzman production. The
(IN)FAMOUS Sam Katzman, who haunted Columbia Studios for many years,
with his cheap movies. This one is colorful, watchable, bearable and
not as disappointing as other productions from this era. I don't
understand what the mighty Gloria Grahame did in that film. Perhaps she
opened the wrong studio entrance. Gloria Grahame who electrified the
audiences in Fritz Lang's Big Heat, and the very same year !!!
Sam Katzman was only the producer, and the interesting Richard Bare the director. As far as I know, he did not work with Katzman on another picture. But perhaps I am wrong. I'll check. Katzman was the owner of this one indeed. Technicians are always the same, when you watch the credits, including the music score artist: Mischa Bakalaneikoff...who performed on almost all Sam Katzman films. Perhpas all of them. And not only Katzman ones.
Back to Prisoners of the Casbah, it takes place in Algiers, but it could have been Bagdad or Damascus. Who cares?...
Katzman has done better - Siren of Bagdad and Serpent of the Nile, with a surprising ending - but Universal productions starring Jon Hall and Maria Montez were a thousand times better. No comparison. Even if this one is - I repeat - not charmless.
You can try it.
If you can...
Oh Brother! Gloria Grahame either crossed the wrong person or was
fulfilling a contractual obligation to have ended up in this bargain
basement sandlot soap opera.
That this piece of tripe was her follow up to her career best performance in The Big Heat is something that boggles the mind. She's strictly phoning it in, not even attempting to do more than the script asks of her. Who can blame her? The decidedly down market Turhan Bey and Cesar Romero may not be on her level talent wise but they seem to understand the spirit needed to make this kind of escapist fare work better than she.
The story, what there is of it, is the usual power struggle for control of a mythical kingdom. It's colorful, doesn't bear any scrutinizing for sense but if it's a rainy day and you're in the mood for a mindless escape this would fit the bill.
Richard L. Bare is best remembered for creating and directing the Joe
McDoakes comedy short series at Warner Brothers. With that in mind, Sam
Katzman hired him to direct this 1001 Nights potboiler as a comedy ...
or perhaps the script was emended without telling the boss; as any
follower of the incomparable S.K. will tell you, anything is possible
in a Sam Katzman production.... except excellence.
In this one, perpetual Arabian Nights villain Turhan Bey is promoted to hero, Gloria Grahame is promoted to ingénue and Cesar Romero gets the role that would have gone to Anthony Quinn if that actor wasn't off elsewhere getting Oscar nominations. All the actors are clearly playing their roles tongue in cheek, to go along with the handling of the music, but everyone reads their endless lines in a breathless manner, especially when they are dying.
Unfortunately the entire production is treated in such a contemptuous fashion that the joke wears thin very soon. Turhan Bey would flee to Vienna and earn a living for the next forty years as a photographer. Gloria Grahame would have Lee Marvin scald her face with coffee for her sins. And Sam Katzman would continue to to produce more dreck.
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