Sunday, March 13, 2011


Egypt, 1249. The town of Halwan, supposedly ruled by Prince Salim, is actually being run by a shadow ruler, the Shaman, who keeps Salim drugged and is in cahoots with the warlord Rama Kahn (Michael Rennie) who arrives theoretically to protect Salim but really to plunder the town with his troops. Also new in town, fresh from a victory against invading hordes, is the handsome Prince Haidi (Jeffrey Hunter), son of the Caliph of Bagdad. When the people rebel against Kahn's parading troops, Haidi's friend Hussein is killed as a scapegoat and Haidi stays in town to catch the guilty party, Kahn himself. Also in the mix are two beautiful women: the dancing girl Taura who shakes her moneymaker at an Arabian-Nights equivalent of a nightclub, and the Princess Shalimar who is kept a virtual prisoner in the castle by the Shaman. However, it turns out that the two are one (Debra Paget): Shalimar leaves the castle each night by a secret passage and becomes Taura, not only a sexy dancer but also a resistance fighter against Kahn. There is more plot and incident, including the threat of a forced marriage between Shalimar and Kahn in order to save the town, but the reasons for watching this film are the Technicolor, the elaborate sets, the fisticuffs--including a well-staged swordfight between Haidi and Kahn's men--and the lovely leads Chandler and Paget. They're not called upon to do great acting, but they fit the bill for solid B-adventure-movie performers. Rennie makes a fine villain, Michael Ansara plays his second-in-command, and Wally Cassell is comic relief as Haidi's sidekick. Enjoyable for a simplistic exotic adventure movie of its era. [FMC]

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