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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Kismet (1955)

In old Bagdad, a poet (Howard Keel) is mistaken for a beggar. After a murderous brigand (Jay C. Flippen) pays him a hundred gold pieces for lifting a curse, he is taken to the royal palace where he passes himself off as a wizard. Meanwhile, his daughter (Ann Blyth) falls in love with a gardener (Vic Damone) who is really the Caliph. The most maligned of Vincente Minnelli's musicals (with the possible exception of ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER), I'm quite disposed towards its Arabian Nights kitsch and derive much pleasure from it, so sue me! Minnelli himself practically disowned it but there are some enchanting moments like the Night Of My Nights number that are pure Minnelli. Add the robust baritone of Howard Keel, the great Dolores Gray (her Not Since Ninevah number is terrific), the exotic jazz choreography of Jack Cole and catchy songs (based on Alexander Borodin's music) like Baubles, Bangles And Beads and Stranger In Paradise by Robert Wright and Chet Forrest and who ... well, I couldn't ask for anything more. With Monty Woolley, Sebastian Cabot, Mike Mazurki, Ted De Corsia, Jamie Farr, Reiko Sato (FLOWER DRUM SONG) and Julie Robinson (Mrs. Harry Belafonte).

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