Saturday 25 July 2020

On Blu-ray - David Hare takes a break from the drudgery of daily life to soak up Universal's ARABIAN NIGHTS (1942), COBRA WOMAN (1943) and ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES (1944)

The ageless, ever enchanting boy-man, Sabu (above) as "Ali-ben-Ali" and the endlessly entertaining and gorgeous Maria Montez as "Sherezade" (The movie's own unique spelling) in the first of Universal's series of Maria Montez/Jon Hall Technicolor Exotica B-unit adventure pictures, Arabian Nights from 1942. It was produced by the great Walter Wanger and had enough money and taste behind it to drive it into a very lavish level of spectacle, even while the incredibly busy screeenplay keeps tripping  over itself. 

Lurking elsewhere in the snarling plot Jon Hall who ably partnered Maria (below) in all these wartime confectionaries, plus backgrounded male eye-candy Tuhran Bey and Leif Erickson for bonus. 

While this (and Universal's 1944 Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves directed by ever reliable stalwart and "discoverer" of Clint Eastwood, Arthur Lubin) never rise to the delirious level of Siodmak's 1943 masterpiece of anti-fascist camp, Cobra Woman, they are completely enjoyable on their own modest but very satisfying terms.

The three movies, including Cobra Woman from last year, are now released in totally eye-breaking Technicolor remasters on Kino Lobber Blu-ray. 

I hate to say these things but sometimes you really need a break from the drudgery of daily life, and not unlike WW2, these little gems of escapism are great relief from a present and imminent future of appalling plague.

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