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Ultra Mod, Ultra Mad, Ultra Mystery! Enter the world of Arabesque—a high-speed, high-class tale of international intrigue starring screen icons Gregory Peck (Duel in the Sun, Mirage) and Sophia Loren (Five Miles to Midnight, Marriage Italian Style). An American hieroglyphics professor (Peck) is hired by a mysterious Arab oil magnate to decipher a secret message. When the hidden meaning is revealed, the chase is on as he and the oil magnate’s exotic yet unpredictable companion (Loren) find themselves caught in the middle of an assassination plot. The great Stanley Donen (Singin’ in the Rain, Charade) directed this exciting romantic thriller that features the stylish music of Henry Mancini (The Pink Panther, Touch of Evil) and the acting talents of Alan Badel (Force 10 from Navarone), Kieron Moore (David and Bathsheba) and George Coulouris (Citizen Kane).
-NEW Audio Commentary by Film Historians Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson
-Music by Mancini: Archival Featurette with Henry Mancini and Nationally Syndicated Columnist Leonard Feather
-5 TV Spots
- MPAA rating : NR (Not Rated)
- Package Dimensions : 6.69 x 5.39 x 0.31 inches; 5.92 Ounces
- Director : Stanley Donen
- Run time : 1 hour and 45 minutes
- Release date : September 14, 2021
- Actors : Gregory Peck, Sophia Loren, Alan Badel, Kieron Moore, Carl Duering
- Studio : Kl Studio Classics
- ASIN : B097XGM6TS
- Number of discs : 1
Best Sellers Rank:
#11,170 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- #1,415 in Action & Adventure Blu-ray Discs
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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There were no problems playing this disk in my Region A player. The picture quality is far superior to the original theatrical version which I saw in a half emty second tier movie house in L.A.
The film belongs to a long forgotten genre launched by the success of the 007 thrillers. Suddenly, the screens were glutted with poor imitators. Of course, there were the Len Deighton and John Le Carre adaptations which were for a more sober audience.
At the time, I remember this film being highly publicized, but since it came out at the tail end of the fad, it did so with a loud thud. Most people found it vapid and inconsequential. But now, compared to the mindless comic book garbage out there, this film is a feast in every department. More concerned with style (the baroque photography is by Christopher Challis), the visuals are truly dazzling and Miss Loren was caught at the height of her stunning looks (rags by Dior). Gregory Peck seems out of place in a role conceived for Cary Grant, but he acquits himself as best as he can. He and Loren are a class act, as is the zippy direction by Stanley Donen and a scintillating score by master Henry Mancini. It does not get any better than this. It’s a great flick for Nostalgia freaks, fans of the stars and a romp for those with a sense of wholesome fun (no butt shots, no feigned by-the-numbers sex).
The plot concerns a fiendish search for a strip of parchment containing a series of hieroglyphics, the whole thing being nothing more than a barrel of red herring. Peck plays a university expert who gets drafted by a Middle East potentate, finding himself caught in a thre-way wrangle for the possession of the cypher. Loren is the central love interest, a mysterious gal who seems to switch loyalties with the same ease she changes her high couture designs. Alan Badel plays a cobra-like villain with a penchant for female footwear, and Kieron Moore plays a rather dopey rebel. Its all served in Panavision and color (the latter not a given in those days).
There are no extras. And if you have to stop the player for any reason, the chapters come at half hour intervals - a crashing bore.
The film itself certainly has its charms, especially photography and star-power, but the plot has such ludicrous moments that it's hard not to groan aloud. For example, if you're on horseback in a vast forest being hunted by a helicopter, do you (a) ride in a different direction, (b) dismount and wait til dark, (c) wait for the chopper to run out of gas, or (d) ride into an open field where you can be shot. This film is a parade of option (d)s. They spent a fortune on everything but rewrites.
Top reviews from other countries
Stanley Donen directs with consistent brilliance and the story - about the deciphering of a Hittite text which may or may not convey something of top secret importance to various interests - is engaging and entertaining. This is largely owing to the high quality contributions on offer: faultless performances by the two stars, particularly good in the light comedy of many sequences; amusing, often witty, dialogue showing the
influence of Charade's Peter Stone; the enjoyably convoluted narrative mimicking. I suppose, the arabesque movement of the title; Christopher Challis's sumptuous photography in Panavision and Technicolor; the sharp editing by Frederic Wilson; Henry Mancini's minimal but evocative music; and Christian Dior's elegant sixties wardrobe for Sophia Loren.
Peck plays the academic drawn into a web of espionage and Loren the femme fatale he encounters en route. A well-tried formula but here it
works a treat. Several 'Hitchcockian' sequences stand out for their suspense and humour: Peck and Loren following a trail of dropped sweet wrappers across London, one of which may contain a secret code; Loren trying through various facial expressions to make a stationary guardsman raise his foot off one of the wrappers; Peck trapped fully-clothed in a shower with Loren, evading those who would want to kill him.
Yes, there are nods back to Charade and Cary Grant and forward to North by Northwest in the final mad chase through a cornfield, with
similarities to the Betty Box version of The Thirty Nine steps with its hero trapped in a cornfield which is being, well, harvested. But there is much to make this film outstandingly representative of the sixties comedy-spy-thriller.
Apparently Donen was disappointed with the film. He need not have been. Arabesque was a box-office hit in its time and has improved with age. The DVD print was excellent with clear picture quality and good sound. Buy, watch and enjoy.
The DVD quality is good. Optional English subtitles are available for those who need them, as are subtitles in numerous foreign languages (Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Spanish, Swedish). There are audio options for the dubbed version of the film in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian. This is a PAL encoded DVD for Region 2, 4, and 5.
Tip: if you're on horseback in some woods and you're being chased by a helicopter, it's a bad idea to ride out of the woods into open country.
Picture quality: 7,5/10
Aspect ratio: 2,35:1 (orig.)
Run time 24fps: 1:45'24"
Audio: Ital.; GB
ST: Ital. o/-
Extras: Foto gallery
Release: Cult Media (Italy)
My personal Stanley Donen favourite.
This wonderfully twisted 60s classic crime comedy has it all:
Great leads, inventive photography (incl. one great match cut :D), moderate shots of ‘Swinging Sixties’ London (psychedelia, Pop Art etc.)
…and yes: a MacGuffin too! Only lacks a decent sixties soundtrack for my taste.
Image looks good, maybe a bit dark at times – or is it the contrast level?
Decent amount of natural film grain proves that picture hasn’t been tempered with digitally - which is good!
(only exception TC 00:20:08, shot with available light only? – but no problem!)
The plot convolutions are more artificial, strained and less credible than Charade and the lukewarm reception it got is probably why Stanley Donen failed to make any more films like them.
But that aside, Gregory Peck is a likeable hero (in the Audrey Hepburn role) and Sophia Loren makes a charming Cary Grant). The wonderful theme music is in a similar style to Charade, if over used, and the locations, whilst wildly improbable, are used to great effect.
Great DVD transfer.