10 February 2007 | Doylenf
Another Arabian Nights treat from Columbia with comic overtones...
Escapist fare was always welcome during the troubled '40s-era, especially just after World War II when movie fans were clamoring for entertainment to take their minds off their woes. So Columbia jumped onto the bandwagon with a fluffy Arabian Nights sort of adventure starring their hot new box-office star, CORNEL WILDE as Aladdin in A THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS, teaming him with up and coming EVELYN KEYES and wise-cracking PHIL SILVERS for comedy relief.
And with eye-popping Technicolor added to the mix, it's a pleasure to report that it succeeds as escapist fare on its own terms--with Silvers largely stealing the show with his array of anachronistic gags that help whenever the action gets dull.
But that's not too often. CORNEL WILDE was an ideal choice to play the adventure hero Columbia assigned him to after his success as the pallid Chopin in A SONG TO REMEMBER. He's at home among the plush fairy-tale settings and shares some charming on screen chemistry with co-star EVELYN KEYES, but only has one chance (at the finale) to indulge in a swashbuckling duel with Hoey. Wilde turned down a chance for the Olympic championships in dueling to start his film career instead.
DENNIS HOEY plays the Sultan and his villainous twin brother with energetic relish. Wilde's romantic interest is ADELE JERGENS as the Sultan's beauteous daughter. The story, of course, is a tongue-in-cheek variation on Aladdin's use of the magic lamp with the help of Genie (Keyes) instead of the genie we all saw in THE THIEF OF BAGHDAD (Rex Ingram), who makes an appearance in the film as a token gesture.
It's all complete nonsense, with typical humor from Silvers ("I wish I had a gun. What am I sayin'? Guns haven't even been invented yet!"). He's turned into a crooning Sinatra after Genie Keyes decides to do him a final favor with a rub of the lamp. She gets her wish too--a clone of Cornel Wilde so that she doesn't end up alone.
Pure escapist fun, totally unsophisticated and clearly aimed at a youthful audience of the '40s crowd. Whether you like it or not, depends on your sense of humor and nostalgia for this sort of thing.