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Omar Khayyam was one of the greatest Persian poets. He was also a brilliant mathematician. Though his quatrains were written in the 11th century, they are still popular the world over. The details of his life are unknown, so this movie invents a biography for him and includes in it his real achievements - the invention of a new calendar and the penning of those epigrammatic poems. This film has him romancing a sultan's bride and foiling the assassin sect's plot to kill the sultan's son. Written by
Another great biography parodies into fluff. Kitsch Entertainment
Unfortunately we do not have a lot of biographical detail on Omar Khayyam, one of the world's greatest mathematician, astronomer and poet, and a philosopher as well. His tomb, still existent in Iran is a great monument of Islamic architecture. This movie is a monument to Hollywood's inability to capture any of those values and turn it all instead into a vapid adventure story with miles of cheap fabrics that look 'exotic'. We even get a band of "assasins' that is very similar in spirit, logical plan and training to today's Taliban.
Cornell Wilde is unable to project the charisma and genius of this Persian poet. He looks like a retired banker that lives in NY, has a mild interest in the theater and is doing this movie because he wants to have a tax right-off. He should have been played by Omar Shariff. Margaret Hayes is great camp as Queen Zarada, the queen mother whose ambition will stop at nothing to secure the throne for her sons. She is also capable of sustaining a platinum blond mane in the midst of the harem with great aplomb, as a symbol and reminder that all queens should be white, blond and preferably from Philadelphia. She is always trailing several yards of Technicolor blue cape behind her every move. Joan Taylor is so ferociously loyal and annoyingly organized as Yaffa, Omar's slave, that one is relieved to see her being pushed from a cliff. Debra Paget plays Sharain, Omar's great love and inspiration for his poems, as a secular nun who also clearly has a cross-eyed problem. This role should understandably have gone to Arabian Night-resident-Hollywood-expert Maureen O'Hara. Michael Rennie is the EVIL Hasani Sabah, and gives the best performance in his role as the ruthless leader of the Assassins sect. One laments not to see him shirtless and wearing a pendant cabochon emerald from one of his handsome earlobes.
As a vapid Arabian Night action movie it has all the polyester, plated gold, architectural plaster and Technicolor spectrum of saturated glamorama to while away a lazy summer afternoon. Great double feature with a Sinbad or Baghdad movie.
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