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DVD Review

DVD cover

Arabian Nights (1942)


Starring: Sabu, Jon Hall and Maria Montez
Distributor: Spirit Entertainment
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: PG
Release Date: 10 June 2013

Haroun-Al-Baschid’s brother attempts a coup to impress and win the beautiful dancing girl, Scheherazade, having seemingly failed and hung to be left for dead, Kama’s supporters free him forcing Heroun to find refuge with a group of travelling performers. Both brothers vie for the throne and for the affections of Scheherazade...

Arabian Nights (Colour - 1942 - 1 hr, 22 min, 58 sec) is a costume extravaganza, directed by John Rawlins. The film was nominated for four OSCARS and produced by the unfortunately named Walter Wanger, I kid you not.

Not only are the costumes vibrantly colourful, the sets of Baghdad are still impressive in their scope and good enough for you to suspend belief that they are mostly paintings. The film was produced during the Second World War and like many of these movies was designed as exciting distractions to the reality of the world outside the cinema palace.

Being a film of its time, the actors are inevitably white, plastered with brown makeup to imitate Arabs, although the Indian actor, Sabu appears as Ali Ben Ali, he would go on to play Mowgli in the 1942 version of Jungle Book. The story is told in simple terms with the bad guys being bad and the hero always appearing against a background of softly seeping violins.

Overall, it’s a simple tale of love and rivalry which gathers together the only characters that the audience were likely to recognise, so ignoring timescales; the film also features Aladdin (John Qualen) and Sinbad (Shemp Howard). The film stars Jon Hall as Haroun-Al-Baschid, the beautiful Maria Montez as Scheherazade and Leif Erickson as Kama.

The 4:3 picture perfectly shows the rich colours which Technicolor was able to produce. The picture is as good as you’ll get on a DVD, with no damage or artefacts; I was impressed how well the Technicolor had withstood the passage of time. The DVD contains no extras.


Charles Packer

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