24 January 2010 | Bunuel1976
THE MAGIC CARPET (Lew Landers, 1951) **1/2
Arabian Nights romps are popular around the house especially during this time of year for their exotic flavor, fantasy elements, action outbursts and general mindlessness. This film is best-known, if at all, for the presence of Lucille Ball; interestingly, she does not play the heroine but rather a sultry semi-villainess (the ambitious sister of the current Caliph, naturally a usurper). Equally predictably, the true heir to the throne (blandly played by John Agar) has survived an attack upon his life as an infant and, unaware of his heritage, has taken to living a life of poverty as a physician. The heroine, then, is a feisty (but who effortlessly works her feminine charms when the need arises) Patricia Medina – a regular in this type of film – who not only gets off with Agar on the wrong foot (by wanting to join the all-male band of rebels he secretly and all-too-suddenly finds himself leading under the guise of "The Scarlet Falcon"!), resents Ball (obviously over her attentions to Agar, eventually in the Caliph's employ when he cures a case of hiccups he had brought about in the first place) but has a brother of her own (Agar's sidekick and the film's obligatory supplier of comedy relief, George Tobias). As for the chief villain, we get no less than Raymond Burr: needless to say, he craves Ball's favors but she only has eyes for the dashing hero. The titular fabric comes in handy many a time during the course of the film, usually to allow Agar to make a nick-of-time escape or to meet up with his rabble and give them the low-down on the Caliph's movements so that they can finally storm the palace, rid the country of a tyrant and put Agar himself in his rightful place. As can be expected, the film is instantly forgettable and hardly great cinema but certainly makes for colorful fare and fun viewing to boot i.e. it provides perfect relaxation after a hard day at work.