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Friday, August 19, 2016

Adventures Of Marco Polo (1938)

A merchant traveler (Gary Cooper) from Italy travels to China where he hopes to negotiate a deal for trade with the Chinese people. But at the court of the great Kublai Khan (George Barbier), he finds romance in the form of Khan's daughter (Sigrid Gurie) and political intrigue in the form of Khan's treacherous aide (Basil Rathbone) who has plans of his own for the throne. Anyone watching this film for any glint of historical accuracy needn't bother. A film about trade negotiations would no doubt be too dull so instead Marco Polo is re-invented as an action hero and lover. The Chinese introduce him to pasta and gunpowder and in return, he teaches them how to kiss! Oh, Hollywood! Lavishly produced by Samuel Goldwyn, the ads boasted "and a cast of 5,000" and visually, the film is indeed impressive. It's an enjoyable slice of hokum even as the preposterousness of it all can't help but bring a snicker now and then. Directed by Archie Mayo. The cast includes Lana Turner, Binnie Barnes, Alan Hale, Ernest Truex and H.B. Warner.

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