Friday, May 09, 2014

Tonight's Movie: A Thousand and One Nights (1945)

I'm back this evening from a quick visit to Flagstaff to bring our son home for summer break after completing his junior year at Northern Arizona University.

We liked the Little America Resort we stayed at last summer so much that we stayed there again on this visit. And this time I bought the book on Sun Valley I'd admired on our last visit!

Fortunately our travel was much smoother than it was last August, other than passing an accident on our way home which involved carrots spilled all over the northbound 15.

One of the things I've really come to enjoy when traveling is streaming movies on my Kindle Fire. I've used Netflix or Amazon Prime on past trips, but last night I used the Watch TCM app which became available for the Kindle Fire less than a month ago. It was beyond wonderful having my choice from many of the films which have recently aired on TCM, including some which were sitting in my DVR back at home!

For my first film I chose A THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS (1945), which tied in nicely thematically with another "desert" film I just watched, THE DESERT HAWK (1950). It was an entertaining comedic spin on the story of Aladdin, played by Cornel Wilde; if it was a little too top-heavy with the loud comedy of Phil Silvers, that was offset by the film's exquisite Technicolor and an engaging cast.

Aladdin dares to gaze upon Princess Armina (Adele Jergens) and instantly falls in love; though it takes her a while to admit it, Armina loves Aladdin too. Alas, a poor man of the streets has no hope of marrying a princess, until the day Aladdin finds a lamp and meets a most unusual genie (Evelyn Keyes) who can make all his dreams come true.

The movie would be worth watching for its dazzling Technicolor alone, shot by Ray Rennahan, but it's a lot of fun to watch for other reasons. Wilde is well-cast as Aladdin; he performs a couple of tuneful songs, dubbed by Tom Clark. Keyes is amusing as Babs, the genie who falls for her master, and Jergens is also good as the icy princess who gradually thaws. Jergens rather reminded me of Virginia Mayo, especially as this was the kind of role Mayo so often played in adventure films.

I also particularly enjoyed Dusty Anderson, who has considerable screen time as the senior handmaiden to the princess. Anderson, seen at the right, was in a baker's dozen of films, including TONIGHT AND EVERY NIGHT (1945); she had a long, successful marriage to director Jean Negulesco, who passed away in 1993. It appears Dusty Anderson is still with us today, now 95 years old.

The princess's handmaidens are quite an interesting group. IMDb tipped me off to watch them closely, as the actresses included Shelley Winters, Nina Foch, Jeff Donnell, and Janis Carter.

The large cast also includes Dennis Hoey, Gus Schilling, Philip Van Zandt, Richard Hale, and John Abbott.

A THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS was directed by Alfred E. Green. It runs 93 minutes.

A THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS was released on VHS but does not appear to have had a DVD release as yet. Perhaps it will be out in the future in the Sony/Columbia MOD line.

In the meantime, it can be rented for streaming on Amazon Instant Video.

Good fun.


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