Sunday, July 19, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Son of Ali Baba (1952) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Tony Curtis and Piper Laurie star in the delightful adventure SON OF ALI BABA (1952), which will be released on Blu-ray this week by Kino Lorber.

SON OF ALI BABA is a "desert adventure" from Universal Pictures in the tradition of the studio's THE DESERT HAWK (1950) and FLAME OF ARABY (1951).

It also reunited Curtis and Laurie from THE PRINCE WHO WAS A THIEF (1951) and NO ROOM FOR THE GROOM (1952).

Curtis plays Kashma Baba, son of the famous thief Ali Baba (Morris Ankrum). Ali Baba, now living an honorable life, is retired to a luxurious home and has sent Kashma off for military training. Kashma and his pal Mustapha (William Reynolds) work hard and play hard, partying with beautiful ladies (including Mara Corday and Alice Kelley) after each day's training.

Kashma is popular among his friends, but he's hated by fellow cadet Hussein (Hugh O'Brian), son of the Caliph (Victor Jory). Hussein's hatred for Kashma will soon lead to serious problems.

Into Kashma's life comes Kiki (Laurie), who invades his home claiming to be an escaped slave from the Caliph's harem. Kashma gives her sanctuary, and he, Kiki, and Mustapha soon must head for refuge at Ali Baba's palace in the Valley of the Sun, where they're aided by archer Tala (Susan Cabot). Hussein and his father are in hot pursuit, hoping to destroy the house of Ali Baba forever.

I had such a good time watching this one, from the opening narration by Jeff Chandler all the way through to "The End." Let's ignore the tired criticisms of Curtis and his New York accent being out of place in an Arabian Nights fantasy -- who cares?! He's charismatic, handsome, and appears to be having a grand time in this. He's perfect.

This film is pure, good-natured fun, dressed up in Universal's candybox Technicolor, as filmed by Maury Gertsman. Curtis and Reynolds are terrific male leads, and the beautiful Laurie and Cabot both deserve a shout-out as spunky ladies who aren't damsels in distress but eagerly join in battle. Laurie's Kiki at one point drags Kashma out of a fire, while Tala is a brave master archer who puts plenty of bad guys out of commission.

This is the kind of movie which knows exactly what it wants to be and succeeds admirably. One might say it's not great art, but it's great entertainment -- yet there is a certain level of artistry involved in making a film like this which engages so delightfully for 75 minutes. It's marvelous escapism, and I can't think of a better way to have spent Sunday afternoon. I'll be returning to this one again when I'm in need of a lift, as I spent most of the movie with a smile on my face.

SON OF ALI BABA was directed by Kurt Neumann, from a story and screenplay by Gerald Drayson Adams. The supporting cast includes Gerald Mohr, Robert Barrat, Leon Belasco, Katherine Warren, Ann Robinson, and Gregg Palmer.

I spotted a couple stray speckles here and there in the Blu-ray print, but I almost hesitate to even mention that as for the most part it looks really wonderful, sharp and colorful.

Extras on the Kino Lorber Blu-ray include a commentary track by Lee Gambin, the trailer, and a trailer gallery for three additional films available from Kino Lorber.


Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger barrylane said...

Your comment about Tony's accent in this film is right on; after all, why would a midwestern or Belgravia speech pattern serve the narrative better? It is what it is, fun.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I hadn't thought of the speech pattern that way before, Barrylane, but that's true!

Best wishes,

10:01 PM  
Blogger Margot Shelby said...

I love these colorful desert adventures. Just what we need right now.

7:14 AM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

You'll never hear me complain about an entertaining adventure. This sounds like a genuine treat.

11:55 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Margot and Caftan Woman, I so agree! A colorful and entertaining adventure is just the treat we all need right now!

Best wishes,

9:54 AM  

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