(director: Arthur Lubin; screenwriters: from the novel Peacock’s Feather by George S. Hellman/Ernest Pascal/Emmet Lavery; cinematographer: Hal Mohr; editor: Milton Carruth; music: Frank Skinner; cast: Turhan Bey (Aesop), Merle Oberon (Princess Delerai), Thomas Gomez (King Croesus), Gale Sondergaard (Queen Attossa), Ray Collins (Leonides, Chamberlain), Paul Cavanagh(Cleomenes), Moroni Olsen(High Priest), Hans Herbert (Priest); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR producer: Walter Wanger; Universal; 1946)

Couldn’t be more boring.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Couldn’t be more boring, have more atrocious acting and be more unintentionally laughable in its stiff presentation. Plays out as an action-less tongue-in-cheek fantasy costume pic on Aesop’s fables, that’s weakly directed by Abbott and Costello filmmaker Arthur Lubin (“Phantom of the Opera”/”Francis the Talking Mule”/”Rhubarb”) and is lamely written by Ernest Pascal and Emmet Lavery. It’s based on the novel Peacock’s Feather by George S. Hellman.

It takes place in the lavish kingdom of Lydia, governed by the elderly, mad, and gold hording King Croesus (Thomas Gomez), in 560 B.C., who is visited by the ex-slave Aesop (Turhan Bey, Austrian actor), the famed fable creator, who serves as ambassador from the Greek isle of Samos and from the young and beautiful Persian Princess Delerai (Merle Oberon) set to marry King Croesus for his money.

The greedy swindling King accepts gold as an investment in his pearl venture from Queen Attossa (Gale Sondergaard) of Phrygia, a sorceress interested in marrying Croesus. When she discovers that the pearl ship was shipwrecked long before she forked over the gold, as revenge she becomes a haunting ghost seeking to drive Croesus completely mad.

Aesop disguised as an old man dressed in rags, fails to impress Delerai. But despite her vanity, the wise man lusts after the princess’s beauty and schemes to thwart her marriage to the evil king. Croesus is advised by his two-faced chamberlain, Leonides (Ray Collins), but his counsel is useless against the team of Attossa and Aesop. The fable spinner finally reveals himself as a handsome young man and Delerai suddenly loves him and his wisdom, while the sorcery of Attossa is used to save the lives of the lovebirds accused of blasphemy and threatened to be tossed off a cliff for messing with the crooked priests from Delphi, who when bribed twist around the messages of the oracle to suit the briber.

All that was missing in this turkey was Abbott and Costello.

Turhan Bey and Merle Oberon in Night in Paradise (1946)