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Omar Khayyam was among the greatest of 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 losing the love of his life to his ruler, and foiling an assassin sect's plot to kill that ruler, the empire's shah. Written by
Cornel Coins the Rhymes, Rennie Starts the Rebellion
Omar Khayyam, medieval poet and scholar and quite the scientist as it turns out in this film, stars Cornel Wilde in the title role. Khayyam is a guy content to do his scholarly thing, but there's a whole lot of treachery going in Persia and it's coming from people close to him.
The legend of Omar Khayyam has him involved with two others, a rich merchant Hisreini who becomes leader of the assassin cult and Nizam who is prime minister to the Shah, played respectively by Michael Rennie and Sebastian Cabot. Rennie who is as always cultured and refined, is the 12th century Osama Bin-Laden of the piece. His is probably the best performance of the film.
By the way Omar Khayyam gives one an opportunity to see both the men who Cecil B. DeMille considered for the role of Joshua in The Ten Commandments in the same film. John Derek who is the crown prince played Joshua and Wilde was the one originally offered the part.
The film was done at Paramount which was a bit unusual itself because the Arabian knights type films were an in house staple of Universal Studios.
Probably Cornel got the part after Tyrone Power who was freelancing then turned it down. It was that way all Wilde's life, getting sloppy seconds from either Power or Errol Flynn.
The film is all right, but should have had Wilde doing a bit more swordplay. He was in real life a champion at fencing.
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