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Plot:

Dancer Scheherazade was told by the stars that she will become wife of the caliph in Bagdad. She tells Kamar, brother of caliph Haroun. He planned a coup d’etat, which failed at first, but supported by the wazir he finally succeeds. Haroun is injured and gets help from Ahmad’s actor troupe, where he is nursed by Scheherazade, who doesn’t recognize him. When she hears that Kamar is looking for her she goes to him, but is sold with the complete troupe of actors to slavery. They’re able to escape, but Haroun is still in danger. To save him, Scheherazade agrees to poison Kamar, but Haroun tries to establish his rulership first.

Also Known As: Duizend en een nacht, Arabskie noce, Arabische Nächte West, Les mille et une nuits, Le mille e una notte, Arabian Nights, Las mil y una noches, As Mil e uma Noites, Thryloi tis vagdatis, Tusen och en natt, Арабские ночи Soviet, 1001 noć, As Mil e Uma Noites, Arabische Nächte, Arabian öitä, 1001 Nat, 1001 nyhtes, A Rainha do Nilo

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  • aaron-mcdaniel
    aaron mcdaniel

    With mediocre acting, sets that appeared to be made out of cardboard and very corny dialogue, I don’t see how anyone could recommend this movie. While the story of 1001 Nights (or otherwise called, Arabian Nights) is usually fascinating, this retelling, or rather gross distortion, is totally unbelievable and sometimes even boring. While some of the characters had the same names as some of those from the book or other movies, their resemblance to anyone in the original story is virtually non-existent. There were a couple plot parallels that helped the story, but even those could not save this movie. It’s very had to believe this movie was nominated for several Academy Awards. Save your money and get the book or at least another retelling, called Arabian Nights, with Mili Avital, John Leguizamo and Jason Scott Lee.

  • bayan-sirriye-sener-firat
    bayan sirriye sener firat

    ARABIAN NIGHTS is a rather routine Hollywood adaptation of the Middle Eastern source material, made with a juvenile audience in mind. I guess the film-makers were attempting to distract contemporary audiences from all of the bad stuff going on around the world at the time, hence them making this very ‘safe’ piece of entertainment.Sadly, ARABIAN NIGHTS is simply too routine to be very entertaining. There’s a silly, pantomime feel to the whole thing, a campiness that just wasn’t there in other contemporary fare from the era. The film also seems to be a bit miscast in terms of the lead actors. Jon Hall is a dullish hero and Maria Montez, while acceptable, suffers from playing a one-dimensional Scheherazade. The romance stuff is sappy and boring.To my disappointment, there isn’t any of the magical/effects type stuff to enjoy here, and nor is there much in the way of action. What we do get are some fun supporting turns from the likes of genre mainstay Sabu (underutilised, unfortunately), Shemp Howard randomly playing a comedic Sinbad, Turhan Bey, Laurel & Hardy comedy actor Billy Gilbert, and Leif Erickson.

  • agathe-klapp
    agathe klapp

    This takes place in ancient Arabia. Something about a handsome man (Jon Hall) and his brother both in love with beautiful Scheherazade (Maria Montez). One is rich and powerful and the other one is poor but really loves her. Who will she choose? The plot isn’t really important here. This was made to entertain audiences and giving them colorful mindless escapism…and it does that! It’s shot in absolutely beautiful Techicolor–every single frame looks gorgeous. The picture never stops moving, there’s plenty of action and a loud pounding score driving things along. As for the acting it’s not that great. Hall and Montez are incredibly beautiful to look at but neither of them were good actors. Sabu pops up here and there helping things along. He can’t act either but he’s so full of energy and youth he’s hard not to like. But worst of all is Shemp Howard (late one of the Three Stooges!) playing Sinbad!!!! To say he’s miscast is an understatement. Still this is colorful and fast-moving–lots of fun! I give it an 8.

  • cassie-smith
    cassie smith

    The breath-taking color photography wins massive acclaim here in the first of the Maria Montez/Jon Hall/Sabu pairings where mostly American actors (and certainly none of Arabic background) put on traditional Islam attire and play dress-up in this cartoonish adventure. Made with the mentality of teenaged boys, this silly but often entertaining adventure, is certainly outlandish, but if you go in expecting realism, you will be sorely disappointed. Not as well made as “The Thief of Bagdad”, this still has enough spark to make for a 90 minute trip into the world of fantasy. It deals with two brothers who hate each other (Hall and Leif Erickson) fighting over the role of Caliph which Hall achieved through being the legitimate heir and Erickson has tried to claim through the assistance of loyal followers willing to resort to the most evil efforts in order to dethrone Hall. When first seen, Erickson is strapped, hanging in mid-air, having tried to overthrow his brother, with hungry vultures waiting for the moment of death to occur. Of course, this never comes, and when Hall visits his brother, he shows a kindness which Erickson literally spits back into his face.Both Hall and Erickson are enamored of the beautiful dancer Montez who only wants to marry the true heir. When Erickson escapes, Hall is suddenly injured through a sudden thrust of an arrow, and Montez’s acrobatic pal Sabu takes off his ring in an attempt to save his life. Not revealing his real identity, the recovering Hall must now reclaim his throne, and this leads to a battle between brothers to the death. In the meantime, there’s a ton of juvenile style comedy, especially in the casting of Billy Gilbert as the head of Sabu’s acrobatic troop. You know the only weapon Gilbert will most likely use is his big belly which as you guess gives an added sound effect every time he thrusts it out to “boink” somebody off of him. Then there’s Shemp Howard as an aging Sinbad and John Qualen as an aging Aladdin, still searching for his lost lamp. One funny moment has Qualen rubbing a lamp he’s found and the apparent emergence of a genie.Still, the scene-stealer of this colorful caper is the always magnetic Sabu whose youthful personality and beautiful body are exposed while Hall seems to look on in envy. Sabu and Montez were created for movies like this, and even when they become too silly to believe, they retain a youthful innocence that makes them absolutely charming and a lot of fun to watch. It’s always obvious how things are going to turn out, and there is about as much realism and historical fact as there is the believability of the casting, but ultimately, that does not matter at all. World War II audiences thrived on fantastic stories like this, and despicable villains that in the end we knew would be defeated and destroyed, much like the villains that the allies were determined to defeat all over the world.

  • julianna-zbrozek
    julianna zbrozek

    With the U.S.A. having just entered WWII, the people were desperately searching for something to take their minds off of the horrors of war. “Arabian Nights” served that purpose. It was successful enough to spawn a number of similar films throughout the 1940s. Most were shot in the spectacular three-strip Technicolor process and had similar plots and casts..Make no mistake about it, “Arabian Nights” is nothing more than a “B” adventure film dressed up in Technicolor with daring heroes, beautiful women and slap stick comedy. The film could have done with out the ridiculous prologue (and epilogue) where a comedic looking sheik or something reads the story to a bunch of giggling members of a harem.The plot is simple. Caliph Haroun-Al Raschid (Jon Hall) has put down a revolt by his brother Kamar (Leif Ericson) and has him being tortured in the public square. Just as he is about to show his brother mercy, the brother’s supporters attack and free him. Al-Raschid and his followers flee and he is wounded near a troupe of entertainers. He is found by Ali Ben Ali (Sabu) who protects his true identity. With Al-Raschid believed dead, Kamar assumes the throne.Within the entertainment group is the beautiful dancer Sherazade (Maria Montez) whom Ahmad loves and with whom Al-Raschid also falls in love. Sherazade on the other hand seeks power by becoming the wife of the Caliph. Al-Raschid is forced to conceal his identity until he can overthrow his brother. That’s basically it.With Billy Gilbert (Ahmad), Shemp Howard (Sinbad) and John Qualen (Aladdin) around to provide the slapstick type humor, the story becomes a little more than a Three Stooges comedy.The real villain of the piece is Edgar Barrier as Nadan the scheming “trusted” assistant to Kamar. He is ready to double cross anyone to achieve his goal of becoming Caliph himself. Turhan Bey plays a Captain of the guard who is equally treacherous. A thin Thomas Gomez stands out as the evil slave trader Hakim who tries to sell off the lovely Sherazade as a slave.Sabu made a career out of this sort of role as the friend of the hero who manages to slip in and out of trouble in a likable manner. Hall, Montez and Bey would go on to make similar such sand and sandal adventure films in the future.

  • ulrika-eriksson
    ulrika eriksson

    I do not understand why the video movie pack shows John Hall when really movie 80% begin to Maria Montez and 20% to Sabu. The story (Boardman and Hogan), an inoffensive comedy in the orientalism way from the 40′, the same that decorates and costumes. Very caracterist in that Hollywood era. Splendid technicolor and adequate music from Frank Skinner.

  • michal-krejci
    michal krejci

    NOTES: Nominated for the following prestigious Hollywood awards: Krasner, Skall and Greene for Color Cinematography, losing to Leon Shamroy’s The Black Swan; Golitzen, Otterson, Gausman and Webb for Color Sets, losing to My Gal Sal; Bernard Brown for Sound Recording, losing to Yankee Doodle Dandy; Frank Skinner for Scoring of a Drama or Comedy, losing to Now, Voyager.Universal’s first three-strip Technicolor feature, and the studio’s top domestic box-office attraction of 1942-43.As for the writing credits, producer Walter Wanger stated at the time of the film’s New York release that the story was written by Michael Hogan, True Boardman and Eddie Hartmann from a general outline by Alexander Golitzen. Its only similarity to Burton’s classic is the title as Mr. Wanger found the original “dull and dirty”.VIEWER’S GUIDE: Adults. The story is certainly silly enough for kids, but they’re likely to take it seriously.COMMENT: “The woman whose beauty shames the glory of the sunset” (to quote some of the rich dialogue in this delightfully escapist yet ultra-lavish and regally elegant slice of eye-dazzling fantasy), namely Maria Montez, here makes her Technicolor debut. Shortly to be crowned “Queen of Technicolor”, Montez presents an exotically fiery, tantalizingly tempestuous personality, extravagantly costumed, exquisitely groomed. That she can’t act for toffee and that her accent is often almost impenetrable simply adds to her more-than-mortal allure. Interestingly, as her box-office appeal was as yet unknown, she is not allowed to dominate the Nights as she did her subsequent films, like White Savage, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Cobra Woman, Gypsy Wildcat, Sudan and Pirates of Monterey. Here, there’s still plenty for Jon Hall and his seemingly acrobatic sidekick Sabu to get their hands on. Turhan Bey, later to take precedence over Jon Hall as the romantic lead, is also in the cast; Leif (pronounced “Life”) Erikson and Edgar Barrier enact the villains; whilst some additional comedy relief (the whole film is just one vast howl) is skilfully provided by our favorite (if impermanent) Stooge, Shemp Howard, plus John Qualen and Sneezy Gilbert.The trailer for this one is also a real hoot, the best of the lot. “Bagdad, city of temptations, where ruler and rogue, slaver and sinner fight for the forbidden Sherazad. A story rich and exotic as the East itself!” And that’s just for openers. Mind you, the trailer for Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves runs this one pretty close. How about: “See Bagdad enslaved by Hunnish hordes!” or, as the off-screen commentator breathlessly informs us, “see Romance in the shadow of the torture rack!” Cut to hero Jon Hall as he remarks (with a perfectly straight face) to heroine Maria Montez, “I’m curious why a girl so young, so lovely, should marry the ruthless Khan?” OTHER VIEWS: Lush color, attractive sets and costumes and plenty of action, somewhat offset by corny dialogue and juvenile plotting. – G.A.

  • jere-nissinen
    jere nissinen

    This film began a cycle for Universal Pictures of making all kinds of fantasy adventures set in the Moslem world. Quite frankly with there being a war on I’m surprised they splurged for color and for the lush sets that they did. But they got use out of them as for the next several years these sets got used and used again in many film. The studio got its money’s worth.Arabian Nights was the first screen teaming of Jon Hall and Maria Montez as she plays the enchanting Scheherazade and he Haroun Al-Raschid the legendary medieval Caliph of Bagdad. Hall is in a bind, he’s the victim of a palace coup involving half brother Leif Erickson and the Wazir Edgar Barrier.Hall seeks refuge in Billy Gilbert’s troop of strolling Moslem players which include Montez and acrobat Sabu. Also among the troop are John Qualen as Aladdin who would like to find that magic lamp he lost years ago and Shemp Howard as Sinbad who spins tall tales for the crowd’s amusement. As you can see quite a bit of comic relief.It still a sumptuous looking film for the eye and the action keeps moving. Arabian Nights got four Oscar nominations for sound, music score, color cinematography and art&set design.If your taste runs to fantasy of this kind Arabian Nights is your movie.

  • leon-philippatos
    leon philippatos

    This action-packed adventure film is worth a watch, but it is not exactly a memorable film, and the story line suffers – secondary to all of the action taking place. (The basic summary is about a man who ends up getting revenge and banding together with some close friends, including a slave girl who is his love interest.) It is a fun film, and the picture (shot in Technicolour) is beautiful. (Excellent landscapes, colourful costumes, and much more come to life in the vibrant colour that this film was shot in.) If you want to watch something fun that doesn’t require much thinking, then this movie won’t let you down.5/10

  • bethany-richard
    bethany richard

    Provided you really don’t know or want to know the real tale of Scheherazade, then you’ll no doubt enjoy this film. The actual book, “The Arabian Nights” (also known as “The Book of One Thousand and One Nights”), was supposedly written by Princess Scheherazade and consists of many short stories she supposedly invented each night in order to save her life from her crazy husband. In this movie there is no reference to this and apart from some of the names of characters from the book (such as Sinbad and Ali Baba), there isn’t much similarity between them. Additionally, if you think too much and question the silliness of it all, you’ll probably hate the film since it is purely an escapist style film–not too much unlike a movie serial condensed into 90 minutes. As for me, I enjoyed the silly escapism and learned to ignore all the mistakes in the film and the rather limp love affair between Maria Montez and Jon Hall . It was nearly non-stop action and fun–complete with perhaps a bit too much slapstick provided by the very large stomach of Billy Gilbert. However, I did enjoy the references to Sinbad and Ali Baba–especially because over and over, Ali (John Qualen) would grab every lamp he found and rubbed it furiously hoping for a genie. Also, it was nice to see Shemp Howard in one of his many appearances before going on to replace his brother, Curley, as a Stooge.If you liked this silly adventure film, try watching Hall and Montez in COBRA WOMAN or Sabu in THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD–both of which are better than ARABIAN NIGHTS.

  • baegmyeongsug
    baegmyeongsug

    This ancient fantasy of two brothers who are caliphs-in-waiting is a dazzling, colorful film presented in lush Technicolor. Maria Montez is the beautiful and exotic Sherazade who desires the trappings of wealth and power as she aspires to marry a caliph. Jon Hall is a virile and likable hero and Leif Erickson and Edgar Barrier are also good in supporting roles but it is Sabu who leaves the best impression in this picture. Nature’s beauty of deep blue skies, thick white clouds and golden desert sand dunes are well-served in this yarn of palace intrigue and murder as the brothers battle for the kingdom’s throne. Chase scenes, sword fights and comedy are sprinkled throughout the story but it is the vibrant color interiors and exteriors that arrest all attention in this film.

  • daniela-calleja-cerdan
    daniela calleja cerdan

    I had long wanted to revisit this one since my one and only viewing of it had occurred long ago (back in the mid-1980s) and given that I am partial to Arabian Nights extravaganzas. Frankly, I was very disappointed that Universal decided to issue this one on DVD by itself a couple of years ago instead of releasing a Franchise Collection comprising several of its equally colorful follow-ups from the same studio; in the end, I didn’t pick the disc up but, in view of the problematic copy I eventually ended up with, it would perhaps had been wiser if I did! In fact, when I first acquired it on DivX, there were severe lip-synch problems; this was remedied when I eventually converted it onto DVD-R but then there was intermittent jerkiness to the picture. Furthermore, when I played it on my Pioneer model, the picture froze with a loud buzz…thankfully, this was not repeated when I placed it into my cheaper DVD player and even the jitters were less conspicuous! Anyway, this movie has a lot to answer for: it was the ideal form of cinematic escapism for WWII picturegoers and reaped big box office returns for Universal which ensured that they went back to the desert of Arabia for many more times thereafter in the next decade or so. Despite the generic title, the film isn’t actually a filmic depiction of one of the classic stories but rather Universal’s own concoction with every known ingredient thrown into the mix for added value: so it is that historical figures (Haroun-Al-Raschid) rub shoulders with mythical ones (Sinbad, Aladdin, Scheherazade) and are subverted or sanitized into the process. Dashing hero Jon Hall plays Haroun-Al-Raschid as a deposed Caliph seeking to regain his throne usurped by his villainous and seemingly love-crazed brother (Leif Ericson); the object of his unrequited affections is Scheherazade – which is actually misspelled in the credits! – played by the iconic “Queen of Technicolor” Maria Montez. Sinbad and Aladdin, then, are incongruously but humorously portrayed as amiable buffoons by familiar character actors John Qualen and Shemp Howard respectively; the latter is always on the point of spinning one of his seafaring yarns yet again before being shut up by his ill-tempered circus employer Billy Gilbert! The third lead role is taken by exotic Indian star Sabu who had already visited this territory in the quintessential Arabian Nights tale (and definitive film), the magnificent Alexander Korda production of THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1940); what the film under review lacks in comparison to the latter is the omission of wizardry and special effects.As I said, this formula proved so successful that Universal reunited variations of the star combo several times afterwards – WHITE SAVAGE (1943), ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES (1944), COBRA WOMAN (1944; see above), GYPSY WILDCAT (1944), SUDAN (1945; also helmed by Rawlins) and TANGIER (1946). Another measure of its being welcome at the time of release is the fact that ARABIAN NIGHTS was nominated for 4 Academy Awards in these categories: art direction-set decoration, cinematography (this was Universal’s first three-strip Technicolor production and, over 60 years later, the colors still leap off the screen), music (Frank Skinner’s score is appropriately rousing) and sound recording. In this context, the choice of John Rawlins as director – best known for the rather weak SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE VOICE OF TERROR (1942) – was a curious one but, in hindsight, he conducted the proceedings very capably.

  • tijs-courtier
    tijs courtier

    Since I’ve recently written an article on MARIA MONTEZ, let me quote directly from it to describe this Maria Montez/Jon Hall/Sabu outing:”The fact that she couldn’t sing or dance seemed to be no obstacle to Maria since she was brimming with confidence–although aside from voice dubbing, it was later revealed that a dance double was used to perform parts of her routine.With Walter Wanger in charge of its lavish production, she was given “Arabian Nights” (’42), a classic fantasy tale that–fortunately–no one was expected to take seriously. As if to make sure of that, the trio of stars were supported by one of The Three Stooges (Shemp Howard) as Sinbad. Another supporting player in the cast was Turhan Bey who would eventually be promoted to co-starring roles with Montez. The boyish Sabu, no longer under contract to Alexander Korda, proved to be one of the most charming ingredients of the film and played a huge role in the story which had Montez captured by an evil caliph and rescued by Sabu who rides through the desert sands to rescue her.With Montez in filmy silks, gaudy baubles and turbaned headdress looking like a fairy-tale princess and muscular Jon Hall sharing the romantic interludes, audience response was enthusiastic. The lavish production values, exotic settings and personable trio made the tale satisfying for patrons seeking easy-on-the-eye entertainment. Lee Mortimer of the N.Y. Daily Mirror noted: ‘After her performance in this opus, Maria Montez climbs several steps in everybody’s estimation.’And apparently, the public agreed because it was a huge hit.”For pure escapism, you couldn’t beat these Maria Montez-Jon Hall films with the accent on adventure and romance in exotic settings and all designed to showcase her Latin beauty. More discriminating viewers noted that the acting was on a grade school level despite the big budget of most of the technicolor films she appeared in.By the way, the article will appear in an upcoming issue of CLASSIC IMAGES.

  • harrison-horton
    harrison horton

    I remember seeing this film when it appeared in 1942, during WWII, a time of tension and uncertainity. It was great escape. The villains were villainous, the heroes heroic. The drama was dramatic and the storyline warm and fuzzy. Seeing it on video has allowed me to revisit that past time when as a child the world was uncertain and it was possible to escape into a costume-splendoured fantasy where the hero gets the girl, saves the kingdom and justice is served. There’s nothing ever wrong with that.

  • matevz-filipic
    matevz filipic

    Arabian Nights is one of the best early Technicolor efforts out of Hollywood and it really shows. It is great fun with a little something for everyone. The DVD is an excellent transfer and the color is beautiful on my new plasma HD TV. For the kids, its a simple action film with good good caliphs and bad caliphs. For the men, there’s the gorgeous Maria Montez (OK, so the boys will enjoy her too.) For the ladies, the costuming will simply amaze you. This film can be watched by everyone except small children (a couple of killings – non graphic and 1 torture scene – also non graphic). Highly recommend for families with children 8 and over yrs old. Us older folks will enjoy it too. You can watch this many times. It won’t get old.

  • nicola-davis
    nicola davis

    After her adoring audience had grown up, they discovered that Maria Africa Vidal de Santo Silas (born 1920, died 1951) hadn’t done her own singing (she was dubbed), nor her own dancing; her ability as an actress was also put into question, but her spell was not tarnished…Maria Montez was still the madly glamorous South American ‘Queen of Technicolor’. What her roles (all of them variations of Scheherazade) required were ingredients she had a surplus of: statuesque bearing, regal demeanor, fiery beauty and, best of all, an unassailable confidence in herself… When one weighed all the things she couldn’t do against the thing she did so well, the balance came out in her favor…Her film, “Arabian Nights,” is a well presented oriental adventure which has nothing to do with its source material but entertained multitudes in search of relief from total war and was followed by several vaguely similar slices of hokum with the same stars…