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Monday, November 22, 2010

Saadia (1953)

A beautiful Berber girl by the name of Saadia (Rita Gam) is considered to have the "evil eye" by the small Moroccan village she lives in because of a curse placed on her by the local witch (Wanda Roth). A French doctor (Mel Ferrer) as well as the Prince (Cornel Wilde) of the province, who has been educated in western ways, attempt to educate the populace as well as put a stop to their superstitious customs. But they both fall under the spell of the beautiful Saadia. Shot in actual Morocco locales with real Arabs in the cast, the film has more authenticity than those Universal backlot Maria Montez "Arabian nights" potboilers but I'm not so sure it has much more credibility. It's still a rather absurd romanticized western view of Arab culture. Mel Ferrer has always been a bit of snooze as an actor but Wilde is curiously restrained here when his performance could have used more spark. The exotic Gam is lovely and brings a graceful elegance to the role. The score, by Bronislau Kaper, is disappointing. Directed by Albert Lewin (PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY) and with Michel Simon in a rare appearance in an American film as a bandit chief, Cyril Cusack and Richard Johnson. The narration is by Edmund Purdom.

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