Arabesque (1966)

Unrated  |   |  Action, Adventure, Crime  |  5 May 1966 (USA)
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Reviews: 75 user | 19 critic

Story of international intrigue involving a university professor, an Arab prime minister, a ruthless businessman, a beautiful spy, and hieroglyphics.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Prof. David Pollock
Alan Badel ...
Kieron Moore ...
Yussef Kasim
Carl Duering ...
Hassan Jena
John Merivale ...
Maj. Sylvester Pennington Sloane
Duncan Lamont ...
George Coulouris ...
Ernest Clark ...
Harold Kasket ...
Mohammed Lufti


Professor David Pollock is an expert in ancient Arabic hieroglyphics. A Middle Eastern Prime Minister convinces Pollock to infiltrate the organization of a man named Beshraavi, who is involved in a plot against the Prime Minister. The nature of the plot is believed to be found in a hieroglyphic code. Beshraavi's mistress, Yasmin Azir is a mystery intertwined in the plot. Pollock needs her help, but when she repeatedly seems to double cross him in one escapade after another, he can't decide on whose side she is working. Ultimately working together, Pollock and Yasmin decipher the plot and set out to stop an assassination of the Prime Minister. Written by E.W. DesMarais <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

professor | cipher | spy | double | code | See All (30) »


Ultra mod, ultra mad, ultra mystery


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

5 May 1966 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Stanley Donen's Arabesque  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$4,800,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Gregory Peck found the stunts particularly difficult because of an old leg injury due to horseback riding. So during the cornstalk scene Peck had to keep telling Sophia Loren to slow down because it looked as if she were rescuing him and not the other way around. See more »


During the scene with the helicopter on the viaduct, the river in the valley below (the Ebbw) is a vivid orange brown. When the helicopter crashes it plunges into a river which is deeper, wider and cleaner! See more »


Yasmin Azir: [Meeting Pollock for the first time] You're an American?
David Pollock: Yes sir, indeedy-do, Ma'am.
See more »


References The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) See more »

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User Reviews

A Little Hitchcock Style, A Little James Bond Style, A Lot of Fun!
31 March 2002 | by (Whitehall, PA) – See all my reviews

ARABESQUE is another fab Universal romantic thriller in the grand CHARADE tradition, including some of the same personnel! If director Stanley Donen's classic 1963 comedy-thriller CHARADE is Hitchcock Lite, then ARABESQUE is Hitchcock Lite after taking a few classes in James Bond 101 (including an opening title sequence by Maurice Binder, who also did the honors for CHARADE as well as for most of the Bond movies). As the hieroglyphics expert embroiled in Middle Eastern intrigue while decoding the cipher everyone's after, the usual slightly wooden note in Gregory Peck's delivery is oddly effective as he tries to loosen up and deliver Cary Grant-like witticisms (from co-scripter "Pierre Marton," a.k.a. CHARADE alumnus Peter Stone). Peck may not be Mr. Glib, but he's so inherently likable and seems so delighted to get an opportunity to deliver bon mots after all his serious roles that he's downright endearing, like a child trying out new words for the first time. And co-star Sophia Loren, at her most alluring as an Arab femme fatale, can make any guy look suave and sexy! Alan Badel, looking like a polished Peter Sellers in cool shades, virtually steals his scenes as the suave-bordering-on-unctuous villain with a foot fetish. Shoe lovers will swoon over the scene with Badel fitting the lovely Loren with a roomful of fancy footwear. Speaking of things of beauty, Christopher Challis's dazzling, inventive cinematography won the BAFTA (the British equivalent of the Oscars), and Christian Dior got a BAFTA nomination for Loren's elegant costumes. Suspenseful and sparkling as this twist-filled adventure is, ARABESQUE's biggest mystery is why it's still only available in VHS format. If this gem ever gets deluxe treatment as a DVD (including letterboxing, please!), I sure hope they get Donen and Loren together to do the kind of entertaining, informative commentary that Donen did with the late, great Stone for Criterion's CHARADE DVD. In the meantime, ARABESQUE turns up on American Movie Classics and Turner Classic Movies periodically, so check your TV listings -- this fun thriller is worth seeking out! UPDATE FOR 2012: ARABESQUE is now available from Universal in a six-DVD Gregory Peck collectors' set, along with MIRAGE, CAPE FEAR, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, CAPTAIN NEWMAN, M.D., and THE WORLD IN HIS ARMS!

28 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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