Arabian Nights adventures were staples on Italian TV in my childhood;
this (acquired fairly recently on DVD as part of Universal's "Rock
Hudson: Screen Legend" set) was one of them, though I'd practically
forgotten all about it in the interim. Not that it's in any way a
memorable entry in the genre, and certainly not original – since this
is basically the Excalibur legend transposed to ancient Bagdad – but a
pleasant diversion nonetheless.
Having watched two of the star's 'oaters' back-to-back (the other was SEA DEVILS ), I can say that he was rather more at ease as an Englishman than an Arab (though he does well enough by the action required here, involving a handful of swordfights and even a jousting[!] contest – which he loses – for the hand of leading lady Piper Laurie). The latter – petite and vivacious – lends some freshness to the mostly familiar proceedings; a similar outing of hers I'd like to revisit someday is THE PRINCE WHO WAS A THIEF (1951) featuring Tony Curtis, another then-rising Universal star who dabbled in actioners (read: potboilers) of every kind during this period.
Anyway, the rest of the cast here is equally creditable: George Macready as the (typically conniving) Grand Vizier, who's eventually revealed to have also ordered the decimation of neighboring Basra (from where Hudson emanates); Samuel Fuller regular Gene Evans as Macready's incompetent son(!) – the old man wants him to marry princess Laurie in order to secure the throne for themselves, but he actually loves her subordinate; Steven Geray as the merchant who first comes into possession of The Golden Blade, and subsequently steers Hudson into fulfilling its destiny (that is, apart from supplying the film's comedy relief); and Edgar Barrier as the reigning Caliph (I've watched him recently in two other exotic ventures for the same studio, namely ARABIAN NIGHTS  and COBRA WOMAN ).
The climax of this compact swashbuckler – running a mere 80 minutes – incorporates a bit of magic (and campiness) as the blade becomes entrenched in the walls of the palace; consequently, a host of muscle-men, inventors and sorcerers are recruited so as to try and dislodge it…but only the dashing hero is able to, the direct result of which is to have the column in question crumble and bury the two villains underneath it! By the way, director Juran would later helm two other (and far more notable) mythical adventures – THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958) and JACK THE GIANT KILLER (1962), both of which had the added appeal of stop-motion animated monsters.
Harum (Rock Hudson) is a fearless man of the people who comes to Bagdad to avenge the murder of his father and meets Krairuzan (Piper Laurie), a princess disguised as a commoner, working against a plot by a band of evil schemers trying to do away with her father, the Caliph. She gives Harum a golden sword which, in his hands, makes him invincible. Harum uses the sword in the name of justice and is doing quite well until a duplicate sword is placed in his scabbard during one of his off-guard moments, and he winds up in chains.
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July 18, 2016 at 11:55 AM