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Joseph L. Scanlan
Fun TV version of the musical chestnut with good cast.
This 90 minute made for television version of the classic Broadway musical, KISMET, is now available on VHS (sadly in black and white as the kinescope from which it was copied was not recorded in color). The production is very well cast with Jose Ferrer as Hajj, Anna Maria Alberghetti as a picturesque and poignant Marsinah, George Chakiris as the Caliph, and Barbara Eden as Lalume. There's even Hans Conreid as a comic Wazir.
Almost all the songs are here. Only three are omitted (Rahadlakum, Bored, and The Olive Tree.) Eden does the best job of all - her Lalume is both comic and sexy - a perfect blend and she nearly steals the show. Chakiris is properly romantic though the choreography he is given is quite mediocre. I had forgotten how good a singer he was (he made four lps of songs before his star waned) - and he makes good use of his nine scenes and four songs.
The subplot with the bandits of the desert and the Wazir being the lost son of the worst of the bandits is jettisoned and the Wazir's death is done by being let down from the palace windows on a rope as opposed to the pool drowning sequence. Other than these changes, it's pretty much all here with some deft rewriting of the dialogue that makes it much funnier than the original libretto. All moves swiftly and it is a most enjoyable 90 minutes.
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