For Reel

A Thousand and One Nights (1945)
August 17, 2015, 4:00 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Alfred E. Green
3.5 Stars
A Thousand and One NightsMedieval swashbucklers had been plentiful in the 1930s and would arguably find their greatest success in the early 1940s, but the release of The Thief of Bagdad in 1940 did have a significant effect in turning Hollywood’s eye towards Middle Eastern mythology once again. A Thousand and One Nights not only capitalizes on the genre with an A-budget (including lavish sets and an impressive array of colorful costumes) and a focus on the fantastical, but serves as a direct parody of The Thief of Bagdad–a fact made quite clear when Rex Harrison shows up as the same Giant he played from the previous film. As with the Bob Hope-starring The Princess and the Pirate from the previous year, the film is a visual marvel and nicely straddles its genres. Although some viewers will be irritated by the antics of Phil Silvers (who plays an anachronistic character “born 2,000 years early”), Cornel Wilde plays Aladdin straight and finds some success in his agreeable blandness. The real star of the picture, however, is Evelyn Keyes as the genie who falls hopelessly in love with Aladdin. Her jealousy causes much of the dramatic conflict in the latter half of the picture, but her facetious treatment of the character always favors well-meaning snark over what could have been an indignant, misogynistic creation.

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