SIREN OF BAGDAD(director: Richard Quine; screenwriter: Robert E. Kent; cinematographer: Henry Freulich; editor: Jerome Thoms; music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff; cast: Paul Henreid (Kazah the Great), Patricia Medina (Princess Zendi), Hans Conreid (Ben Ali), Charlie Lung (Sultan El Malid), Laurette Luez (Orena), Anne Dore (Leda), George Keymas (Soradin), Michael Fox (Telar), Karl Davis (Morab), Carl Milletaire (Hamid); Runtime: 72; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sam Katzman; Columbia Pictures; 1953)
“It’s an unbearably silly tale, played only for laughs but unable to get more than a few.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
It’s an unbearably silly tale, played only for laughs but unable to get more than a few. As a spoof on sword-and-sandal films, this one has some of the lamest gags imaginable. Neither director Richard Quine (“Paris When It Sizzles”/ “Hotel”/”The Prisoner of Zenda”) nor star Paul Henreid have an ear for comedy, as everything they do is heavy-handed. To say the acting was merely bad, would be too generous. Though the film is pleasing visually in its gaudy Technicolor scheme.
The caravan of an arrogant and womanizing magician, Kazah the Great (Paul Henreid), is raided in the Arabian desert by the bandit named Hamid and all the women performers are kidnapped and brought to Bagdad. Kazah sends the men performers onto their next show stop in Basra, while he goes with his obnoxious comic relief assistant Ben Ali (Hans Conreid) to Bagdad to retrieve the girls and his magic trunk. The girls are located being auctioned off in the slave market and when the boys try to rescue them, they are pursued by soldiers. The hulking Morab and a dirty gypsy girl Zendi (Patricia Medina) rescue the pair from the soldiers and take them to meet Zendi’s father Telar (Michael Fox), who is in his cellar hideaway. He’s really the Sultan Ahmand the Justin, who is planning to take back the throne that he lost in battle to his corrupt rival-Sultan El Malid (Charlie Lung). Kazah learns that the women have been sold to the Grand Vizier Soradin (George Keymas), the evil power behind the throne who controls the hare-brained Malid and only wishes to placate the lustful Sultan with the dancing girls for his harem.
Kazah falls in love with Zendi and figures out a way to use his magic to save the day for everyone. But nothing can save the film, as the comedy was absolutely brutal. Conreid is reduced to cracking asinine jokes like the following: “Excuse me, sir; I know they haven’t been invented yet, but have you got a match?”
REVIEWED ON 1/14/2008 GRADE: D
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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