Saturday, May 03, 2008

BAGDAD (1949)

Maureen O'Hara, of the fiery red hair and fiery Irish temperament, is Marjan, a Bedouin princess who was raised in England and has returned to her homeland to see her father. Sadly, just before she arrives, he is killed in a raid by the Black Robes, a rebel tribe. The Pasha (Vincent Price) tells her that the notorious Prince Ahmed is the leader of the Robes and she vows revenge. She finds herself attracted to Hassan (Paul Christian), a lowly camel driver, but we soon find out that he is actually Ahmed, trying to clear his name of any connection with the Black Robes--even Ahmed's cousin Raizul (John Sutton) thinks he's guilty. O'Hara, in a ridiculous plot contrivance, sings at a café (with very bad lip syncing), and soon finds out that Hassan is Ahmed. She has an altercation with the Pasha, whom she discovers is in league with the leader of the Robes, who is in fact not Ahmed but Raizul, and she learns that the Robes are planning to kill some visiting nobility. Marjan and Ahmed soon join forces to set things right. This feels very much like a typical "exotic" B-movie of its era, except it's in bright Technicolor, which is a big plus. I've decided that, as much as I like Maureen O'Hara in MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, she's really not a great actress. She is lovely and can express disdain, but most other emotions seem beyond her. Price does his usual shtick, and I noticed halfway through that he keeps his right eye shut throughout the entire film; I have no idea why. Swiss actor Christian (who later went by Paul Hubschmid) makes a fetching leading man. This is passable 40's escapist fare, done no better than it had to be. [TCM]

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