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Arabesque (1966)

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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Director: Stanley Donen
Stars: Cary Grant, Deborah Kerr, Robert Mitchum


Complete credited cast:
John Merivale ...
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 <jlongst@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


From the Man Who Made "Charade" See more »


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

18 August 1966 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Stanley Donen's Arabesque  »

Filming Locations:



Box Office


$4,800,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The steamer trunk has both padlocks intact once it has been removed from the truck despite the fact that the good professor broke them both when rescuing the prime minister from within. See more »


Sloan says he was with the 42nd Highland Fusiliers. The 42nd is in fact the Black Watch and no one from that regt would ever refer to themselves as anything other than the Black Watch. See more »


Yasmin Azir: [Addressing a uniformed Queen's Guardsman, under whose foot an important scrap of paper has lodged] Excuse me, soldier...
David Pollock: [correcting her] He's a Guardsman.
Yasmin Azir: Excuse me, Guardsman. I'm sorry to bother you. I know you're on duty, but... there is something under your foot that belongs to us.
See more »


Featured in Biography: Sophia Loren: Actress Italian Style (1997) See more »


Gaudeamus Igitur
Traditional tune, lyrics by Christian Wilhelm Kindleben
See more »

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User Reviews

Stylish and fast paced picture in which an university professor becomes involved into a twisted and nightmarish intrigue
4 May 2015 | by See all my reviews

Modern espionage escapism story of international intrigue involving a college professor , an Arab prime minister , a ruthless businessman , an ambiguous spy and hieroglyphics . Ingenuous Gregory Peck and enigmatic Sophia Loren involved in sinister goings-on around . Both of them adrift in a tourist-eye as well as beautifully photographed London and on the run from sinister crooks and death-dealing , double secret agents who want to take a hieroglyph .

This is a sparklingly sophisticated comedy/thriller/romance with Donen's stylish direction and full of plot twists , suspense , fast moving , red herrings and adding enough effects gimmicks . Exciting and clever ¨pursuit film¨ about a naive professor and his unsettling involvement with all kind of baddies along with a beautiful as well a suspicious woman . From the opening credits by Maurice Binder to the ending entertainment and amusement are well provided . It is thrilling and intelligent at times , but results to be pretty amusing , being very sub-Hitchcock and in James Bond style . Interesting screenplay by Peter Stone , alias Pierre Marton , being much flashier than Donen's earlier ¨Charade¨ also written by Stone . Although the part of David Pollock was originally scripted for Cary Grant . Stanley Donen is prepared to resort to all the tricks in the cinematic trade to make this a fascinating thriller and he carries out a conscious effort to capture the peculiar look of the sixties . It packs fun scenes with Gregory Peck in the shower , along with moving action sequences . Peck is perfect as a botcher professor who is drawn into espionage . However , Gregory found the stunts particularly difficult because of an old leg injury due to horseback riding . This was last picture Peck made for three years while he concentrated on his humanitarian efforts that included the American Cancer Society . Gorgeous Sophia Loren is amusingly enigmatic and provides the glamorous mystery element in the plot , she manages to change her Christian Dor's dresses at various scenes . Support cast is frankly good , such as Alan Badel , George Coulouris , Carl Duering , Duncan Lamont and last feature of John Merivale . Colorful and glimmering cinematography in Panavision by Christopher Challis . Enjoyable score by Henry Mancini , including catching musical leitmotif .

This espionage adventure picture was stunningly directed by Stanley Donen who made in similar style ¨Charade¨ with Gary Grant and Audrey Hepburn who was never more beautiful . Donen directed some of the best musicals of history such as ¨On the town¨, ¨Singing in the rain¨, ¨Royal Wedding¨ , ¨It's always fair weather¨, ¨Seven brides for seven brothers ¨, ¨Funny face¨ , among others . The posterior Donen films were heavy-handed , exception of ¨Two for the road¨ again with Hepburn , and too few to show if the magic had really gone . ¨Arabesque¨ rating : 6,5/10 . Agreeable film , enough to entertain young and eldest people . It is essentially a hollow and calculated attempt to cash on the Continental spy trend -the Eurospy Subgenre- of the time .

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