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  • Thank you TCM for airing this 1953 offbeat adventure drama, no doubt filmed to showcase the exotic beauty of talented Rita Gam. Her portrayal of the outcast Moroccan girl, Saadia, is worthy of one of today's "action heroines" - she rides bareback, she brawls, she is brave, tough, resourceful, and beautiful. Part of the problem with the movie's reputation may be the early 1950s novel on which the film is based, "Checkmate to Destiny: The Story of Saadia" by French writer Francis D'Autheville - it's a multi-layered work that combines adventure, colonialism, and culture clashes in post WWII French-governed Morroco (think Lawrence Durrell meets Khaled Hosseini) and was way ahead of its time. Though the dialog is somewhat stilted, it is remarkable how respectful it is, for the 1950s, towards Arab culture, avoiding most of the obvious stereotypes. Lushly filmed in color by MGM, on location, with excellent stunt work, this film absorbed me immediately. Worth seeing!
  • Rita Gam was an exotic looking beauty who shot from a bit part in her first movie (as "The Girl") to the female lead in this, her second film. How does one rise so rapidly through the Hollywood ranks? Perhaps being married to director Sidney Lumet had something to do with it? "Saadia" is fairly wooden at parts, but it's not Rita's fault. She gives a spirited performance as the object of two men's love. The only other life in this movie is provided by Wanda Rotha, as a voodoo wielding rival to Rita. Cornel Wilde & Mel Ferrer, who are friends in the film & act as if they're afraid to hurt each other's feelings, have hurt the audiences feelings by being almost too dull to watch. I rate it 5/10.
  • Linda_S27 June 2011
    Sometimes one is so pleasantly surprised by a film and this is one of those rare gems that surpassed my expectations.

    This is a deeper movie than most of the type coming out of the 1950s.

    I don't know if it came from the novel or the mind of Albert Lewin but there are some deep insights into the human psyche in this film.

    Both Rita Gam and Wanda Rotha are stunning beauties and I've always loved Cornell Wilde which is why I watched the film rather than turning it off as I had intended. Mel Ferrer has a weak moment or two, especially in one scene he merely is reciting his lines not ACTING them. Yet Ferrer is quite good and I can see, now, why he was so popular and a heartthrob.

    This film has action, quite well done I might add, really capable horsemanship, great scenery and costumes, as well as one of the more mature approaches to primitive superstition that one will come across.

    Just a delight and I have to say, yet again, THANK GOD for TCM.

    All in all a MOST delightful 80 some odd minutes of entertainment.

    I full intend to purchase the DVD of this film and if the book is in print that also.

    The film is either 82 or 87 minutes depending on who is right, IMDb or TCM
  • qatmom27 June 2011
    4/10
    Odd
    Warning: Spoilers
    It is hard to believe that this movie was released in 1953. It feels more like 1933, except that it was filmed in color. The story fits 1933 better than 1953--in fact, if it had been released in 1933 but set 50 years earlier, it would be a perfect fit.

    Somehow, a story involving witchcraft in 1953 just doesn't fly.

    Saadia is supposed to be mysterious. Mostly she seems tongue-tied. She seems more capable of heroics than the menfolk in the movie, however.

    There must have been a solid budget behind this movie, and it shows, but the story is so peculiar that the production values don't help.

    Watch it as a curiosity.
  • The most interesting thing about this film Saadia is the fact that it was shot on location in Morocco where the story takes place. I guess a nice trip to Morocco was a nice dividend for the American and European players in this exotic but rather pedestrian drama.

    Playing the title role is Rita Gam and she's a wild child Moroccan girl trained in the black arts by Wanda Rotha. Because of that she's scorned in polite society. But she's got two guys panting hot and heavy for her. They would be the local sheik Cornel Wilde and a French doctor now stationed in Wilde's corner of Morocco, Mel Ferrer.

    There's a breakout of plague where Wilde gets sick and Gam goes the extra mile to get the serum and other medical supplies captured by another local sheik Michel Simon. Presiding over it all is Cyril Cusack who plays a local imam.

    Gam never looked sexier on screen, but she and the others all were in better films. Fans of the leads will find Saadia acceptable.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    If this had been written for the screen a decade before, Universal would have snagged it up for Maria Montez, Jon Hall and Turhan Bey, casting Gale Sondergaard as Montez's evil mother and throwing in a part for Sabu and Lon Chaney Jr. as well. As this was made after the war and a lot of changes in film expectations were now present, it seems a bit bizarre.

    This stars Rita Gam as the title character, a husky voiced daughter of the sorceress Wanda Rothra, and involved with two friends (Cornel Wilde and Mel Ferrer), and basically considered bad luck for the people of Morocco. This film involves a plague, revolts, the death of a wee child and all sorts of other odd occurrences, and with the strange narration, begins to seem like something that European filmmakers might have made a decade later with more sinister visuals. It is filled with action, lots of horse chases and strange music accompaniment, but somehow, it just lays there like a weird nightmare that no sooth sayer could hope to figure out.