Customer Reviews: Arabian Nights (Universal Cinema Classics)
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on November 30, 2006
At last, Universal is releasing the first Maria Montez & Jon Hall adventure classic in glorious Technicolor. I was surprised to see that this was not part of a Collection of 6 Montez films, but happy to get these 1940s classics any way Universal wants to release them. ARABIAN NIGHTS (1942) is great Saturday-matinee fun, but some of the others are even better: COBRA WOMAN (1944) is by far the best, with Montez playing dual roles. ALI BABA AND THE 40 THIEVES (1944) is also a wonderful action adventure, as are WHITE SAVAGE (1943), SUDAN (1945) & GYPSY WILDCAT (1944). I hope Universal will soon release all of these long-neglected classics. I have been waiting a long time.
If you are looking for exotic, colorful, action adventure in beautiful Technicolor, you are in for a great treat.
note: since this review was written in 2006, both Cobra Woman and
Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves have been released on dvd.
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on April 25, 2000
(Action/Adventure, 1 hr 26 min, Technicolor) Universal - U.S.A.
DIRECTOR: John Rawlins
CAST: Edgar Barrier, Leif Erickson, Billy Gilbert, Thomas Gomez, Jon Hall, John Qualen, Sabu, Shemp Howard, Maria Montez (As: Sherezade)
COMMENTS: The legal heir to the throne of the Caliph, played by Jon Hall, is attacked and almost murdered by his evil brother, played by Leif Erickson, who seizes the throne.
A dancing girl (Maria Montez) finds the wounded heir and nurses him back to health. They fall in love, and he sets off on a series of adventures accompanied by a trusted friend (Sabu), an aging Aladdin in search of his mislaid lamp (John Qualen), and a bragging, shiftless Sinbad in his declining years (Shemp Howard).
It's all adolescent adventure but great fun and the production is lavish in all areas, particularly the costumes, sets, and wonderful, lush color which the public was impressed with. The film earned Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography, Best Interior Decoration, Best Sound, and Best Score.
To Maria, it was her first important role, as the beautiful dancer Scherezade, considering that she had to deal with an absurd dialogue. And this was the movie that gave her the nickname of "The Queen of Technicolor".
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on September 19, 1999
From the foolish acts of her father, Sheherazade is cast under a spell by evil caliph. But, true love (Shemp) is artfully working to save her. The forty-thieves come to ride. Sabu (from the Jungle Book) helps until he finds a curiosity in an old Genie's lamp. This is the first teaming of Montez, Hall, and Sabu. Thankful the successful trio went on to make more. If some reviewers find this tale trite, perhaps it is because it lacks the gore and step-by-step sex of other flicks. This is for the whole family and to me, a fun tale. Enjoy
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on March 13, 2003
One of the most beloved escapisms from 40's Warner Bros., that features Maria Montez, Sabu and Jon Hall as the most energetic trio in this sexy camp classic, that it's a sure, colorful entertainment; a rollercoasting Hollywood carnival.
The real show on this is the presence of that genius named Maria Montez, an incredibly bad actress, that finds her way in this type of nonsensical "It is Written" adventures, that makes the desert of Arizona the ideal faking for Arab-themed stories. She's ideal with cheap jewelry and exaggerated make-up, and dancing with an inneffable style (her dancing shows in these films are astonishing, specially in Cobra woman).
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HALL OF FAMEon February 13, 2008
Universal's first movie in complete three-strip Technicolor was ARABIAN NIGHTS, produced by Walter Wanger and starring the gorgeous South American spitfire, Maria Montez.

While it's not entirely faithful to the original stories and legends on which it bases itself, ARABIAN NIGHTS comes alive with lots of colour and pageantry. Jon Hall and Maria Montez (in the first pairing of a long screen partnership) are wonderful to watch. The cast also boasts Sabu and Turhan Bey.

The new DVD from Universal's Cinema Classics line boasts a newly-restored Technicolor transfer, plus a fun introduction from Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne. (Single-sided, single-layer disc).
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on October 2, 2008
I've always been a sucker for, "Old Hollywood" movies, with all their grandeur, great costumes, and pomp. Arabian Nights was a wonderful trip down memory lane to a movie I last saw on Bill Kennedy at the Movies, many, many years ago.

This is a 1942 gloriously technicolor movie that was just what America needed to take it's mind off our boys fighting in WWII. It starts off in a harem, where an older gentleman is sleeping/ snoring when he is supposed to be teaching the ladies in a harem a story. When he finally awakens, the story that is unvieled is about a beautiful dancer named, "Sherazda" who sends a spurned lover off on what she thinks is an unattainable become the Caliph. Little does she know he is the brother of the Caliph and does exactly that.

Sherazada is breath-takingly played by Maria Montez, who can chill or warm a man with one look from her eyes. The girl has got it goin' on. She is a member of a traveling circus and it was foretold to her that she would marry into royalty and reign. Joining her in the circus is a wonderful diverse cast of characters, including, I was excited to see, the man who played, "Shemp" in the three stooges, and a gifted young actor named, "Sabu".

While doing what we would now call a, "pyramid", with Sabu on the very top, Sabu ( Ali ) sees the good Caliph shot with an arrow ( his brother had taken Sherazada's words to heart and started to take over the kingdom ). Jon Hall plays Haroun-Al-Roschid, the good Caliph, and he and his would be assassin tumble a couple of stories to the ground. Sabu sees this while performing and comes to Jon's rescue. Sabu hides the true Caliph's identity, knowing that the Caliph's brother would continue to hunt him down. Sabu removes the Caliph's ring and places it on his would be assissin's finger ( the assissin's face was smashed beyond recognition during the fall, thus ensuring that the Claiph's brother would think that the Caliph was dead ).

Jon's wound is tended to by Sabu and his fellow circus comrades, the only one knowing his true identity being Sabu ( Ali ). Though Sherazada wants her foretold future, she is drawn to Jon's honorableness and loyalty and begins to fall in love with him. He too feels himself falling, even though he knows this woman was what triggered his brother to try and usurp and kill him.

What follows is a great adventure with betrayals, horse chases and laughs. The acting occasionally is a bit over the top, thus the 4 out of 5 stars, but it was still a really fun, carefree way to spend a few minutes of my day.
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on March 3, 2008
This movie is really a classic and besides been from the 1940's they have good special effects. It was a movie i used to watch as child, i used to love all the old classic movies, today is my passion.
I loved all the costumes.

By the way a clarification on a previous review.
Maria Montez was from the Dominican Republic, from the city of Barahona, not from South America.

As Dominican myself i'm very proud of what she acomplished and really sad of her passing so young.
I'll recommend this to anyone that likes oldies or classics.
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on June 13, 2014
Just a quick comment on this film. Love these over the top films. Loved the one Arabian guy, Sinbad, who had all these stories to tell his pals, with a Brooklyn accent. And Maria Montez's over the top acting.

Two brothers fight for the throne. One, sympathetic. The other, power mad. Both want the love of Maria's character who on the outside seems to want only power and a rise in status from dancing girl, but in reality is a softie who only has eyes for the former Caliph, who is pretending he's not one.

Fight scenes, complete with fire and guns, camels and horses.

I still can't figure why everyone is wearing large blankets and lots of scarves, etc. in a desert.

Cool background comments on the film from a film commentator -- name escapes me at the moment.

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on December 17, 2006
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...
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on December 16, 2013
Absolutely wonderful nonsense, a kitsch standard that instantly created its own delightfully silly genre when it opened in 1942. Maria Montez (who owned this kind of part throughout the 40s) and Jon Hall are sublimely wooden and beautiful and Sabu seems to be enjoying himself. The cartoonish acting is superbly matched by the cheesy sets, costumes, matte shots and action sequences.
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