Kismet (1944)

Kismet (1944)

Director: William Dieterle
Starring: Ronald Colman, Marlene Dietrich, James Craig

A thief and a scoundrel known as the King of Beggars dreams of marrying his beloved daughter to a prince, but her heart has gone out to the son of a gardener. The young Caliph seeks to end the corruption of the Grand Vizier, but the Grand Vizier is not going to give up with wealth and power quietly. Did I mention that son of a gardener is actually the Caliph in disguise?

This is a fun movie full of romance and intrigue. Ronald Colman's portrayal of Hafiz the King of Beggars is superb, one of the great con men of cinema. Marlene Dietrich also does quite well as his snarky paramour Jamilla, the prize of the Grand Vizier's harem. Speaking of the Grand Vizier, Edward Arnold plays him with aplomb. You'll have a hard time finding a more affably evil villain, laughing heartily as he plots your death. James Craig as the Caliph and Joy Page as Hafiz's daughter Marsinah aren't anywhere near as interesting, but I'll blame bland characterization. It really doesn't matter given how much the Colman-Dietrich-Arnold trio shine.

The costuming and set design are suitably lavish. It's probably just as well that no one tries to fake an Arabic accent, but you'll probably get a chuckle out of Hafiz's New Yorker lackeys and the terribly whitebread Caliph.

You're not likely to see movies like this made anymore, so do yourself a favor and watch it.

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