In ancient Bagdad, Hafiz is a beggar - self coined the King of Beggars - and a master of the slight of hand. He often likes to wander the streets late at night pretending to be a Prince, ...
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Banished from various U.S. protectorates in the Pacific, a saloon entertainer uses her femme-fatale charms to woo politicians, navy personnel, gangsters, riff-raff, judges and a ship's doctor in order to achieve her aims.
In ancient Bagdad, Hafiz is a beggar - self coined the King of Beggars - and a master of the slight of hand. He often likes to wander the streets late at night pretending to be a Prince, specifically of Hassir located in the farthest reaches of the empire. In the process, he has entered into a passionate romance with a beautiful woman, Jamilla. He is unaware that she is one of the queens of the Grand Vizier - the most powerful man in the empire - to who she was provided in a power deal with Macedonia, the deal agreed to by Jamilla only under the condition that she retain her independence. In turn, Jamilla knows that her lover is not who he says he is, she, however, not having any idea that he is mere street beggar. She doesn't mind his lies as they are a means to escape into a fantasy world away from the reality of life with the Grand Vizier. At home, Hafiz has told his daughter, Marsinah, since she was a child that she would marry a prince, rather than the reality of she probably ...Written by
Life Magazine reported that Marlene Dietrich had her legs painted with four coats of gold paint, and her hair sprinkled with powdered gold for her exotic dance number. See more »
In the bazaar scene about 40 minutes in, a red macaw, a bird of South America, is seen on a perch. It would not be in Baghdad in the days of the Arabian Nights. See more »
[Referring to Hafiz's daughter, Marsinah]
You think she's going to wither away waiting for your fairy tales to come true?
She's waiting for her fate in all its splendor.
The fate for a beggar's daughter is a camel boy.
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I've always felt that the technicolor used in the 1940s constituted some of the best color photography ever seen on film. KISMET is no exception. The color is ravishing, with pastel hues for the sets and costumes in interior scenes and ranks with the best color cinematography of any of the '40s films.
Unfortunately, the vehicle itself is weak and Ronald Colman is not the most suitable choice for the role of the scheming beggar. I admire Colman and he uses his speaking voice to marvelous effect but it's hard to see any chemistry between him and Marlene Dietrich, nor does he seem agile enough in the role. She plays the seductive charmer with all of the glamour she is noted for, including a sensuous dance with her famous gams painted gold. Too bad she wasn't given more screen time since hers is the film's most interesting performance.
James Craig had some decent roles in the '40s but here he is totally bland and colorless as the prince that Colman's daughter is in love with--only she knows him as a common gardener. The improbable plot is a thin one but made bearable by the exquisite photography, busy musical background score and some good character actors. Edward Arnold has a major villainous supporting role and seems to be thoroughly enjoying himself.
In my opinion, the '55 musical remake with Howard Keel in the Colman part showed us just how good the role of the beggar could have been if Colman played it more tongue-in-cheek. Keel was more physically right for the role, as well. Unfortunately, Colman always looked on the verge of middle-age in most of his roles, no matter how early the films were!
Trivia: this KISMET was nominated for four Academy Awards: color cinematography, art direction, background score and sound recording. If the Best Costume category had been recognized then, it no doubt would have been nominated in that category too.
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