Arabian Nights (1942)

86-87 mins | Adventure | 25 December 1942

Director:

John Rawlins

Writer:

Michael Hogan

Producer:

Walter Wanger

Cinematographer:

Milton Krasner

Editor:

Philip Cahn

Production Designers:

Jack Otterson, Alexander Golitzen

Production Company:

Universal Pictures Company, Inc.
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HISTORY

Arabian Nights opens and closes with a framing story featuring an elderly guardian relating the story of two rival brothers, Haroum-al-Raschid and Kamar al Zaman, to six harem girls. In the opening credits, actor Jon Hall receives billing over his co-stars, Maria Montez and Sabu; in the end credits, however, Sabu receives billing over Hall and Montez.
       HR news items state that some scenes in the film were shot on location in Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, both in Utah. According to HR news items, Ford Beebe directed the second unit of Arabian Nights , which shot exteriors in the coral sand dunes near Kanab, UT, while John Rawlins worked with the first unit back on the studio lot. According to Universal press materials, producer Walter Wanger hired artist Dan Sayre Groesbeck to paint a series of sketches which were to be used as "scene guides" in the production of Arabian Nights . HR news items announced that Stanley Logan was working on the screenplay to Arabian Nights , but his contribution, if any, to the released film has not been determined. Model Marie McDonald was cast in Arabian Nights , but left the film and Universal to appear in the 1942 Paramount film Lucky Jordan (See Entry), according to HR .
       Arabian Nights was the first of six Universal films to co-star the romantic adventure team of Jon Hall and Maria Montez. Sabu was also featured with the two stars in their next film together, 1943's White Savage , as well as the 1944 Universal ... More Less

Arabian Nights opens and closes with a framing story featuring an elderly guardian relating the story of two rival brothers, Haroum-al-Raschid and Kamar al Zaman, to six harem girls. In the opening credits, actor Jon Hall receives billing over his co-stars, Maria Montez and Sabu; in the end credits, however, Sabu receives billing over Hall and Montez.
       HR news items state that some scenes in the film were shot on location in Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, both in Utah. According to HR news items, Ford Beebe directed the second unit of Arabian Nights , which shot exteriors in the coral sand dunes near Kanab, UT, while John Rawlins worked with the first unit back on the studio lot. According to Universal press materials, producer Walter Wanger hired artist Dan Sayre Groesbeck to paint a series of sketches which were to be used as "scene guides" in the production of Arabian Nights . HR news items announced that Stanley Logan was working on the screenplay to Arabian Nights , but his contribution, if any, to the released film has not been determined. Model Marie McDonald was cast in Arabian Nights , but left the film and Universal to appear in the 1942 Paramount film Lucky Jordan (See Entry), according to HR .
       Arabian Nights was the first of six Universal films to co-star the romantic adventure team of Jon Hall and Maria Montez. Sabu was also featured with the two stars in their next film together, 1943's White Savage , as well as the 1944 Universal release Cobra Woman . According to HR , Sabu was signed by Wanger to appear in Arabian Nights after being released from his contract by British producer Alexander Korda, for whom he had made the adventure films Elephant Boy and The Thief of Bagdad (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.5330 and F3.5486). This was Leif Erikson's last film before his induction into the U.S. Navy; he did not return to acting in motion pictures until 1947, when he appeared in Monogram's The Gangster (See Entry).
       Arabian Nights received four Academy Award nominations: production designers Jack Otterson and Alexander Golitzen, along with set decorators Russell A. Gausman and Ira S. Webb, were nominated for Best Art Direction/Set Decoration (color); cinematographers Milton Krasner, William V. Skall and W. Howard Green were nominated for Best Color Photography; Frank Skinner was nominated for Best Musical Score (drama or comedy); and sound director Bernard B. Brown was nominated for Best Sound Recording.
       According to modern historians, The Arabian Nights' Entertainment , also known as The Thousand and One Nights , is a collection of stories from Persia, Arabia, India and Egypt, compiled over hundreds of years. Most of these stories originated as folk tales, anecdotes, or fables that were passed on orally. They include the stories of Ali Baba, Aladdin and Sinbad the Sailor, all of which have become favorites in Western countries. The stories in Arabian Nights are narrated by "Scheherazade" (listed as "Sherazade" in the screen credits,) a queen whose own story acts as a frame for the collection. The earliest known written record of Arabian Nights is a fragment of the collection that dates from the 800s. The collection grew over the centuries until it reached its present form, written in Arabic, in the late 1400s. Antoine Galland translated the stories into French in 1704, entitling his publication Les mille et une nuits . The best known English-language versions of these fables are Arabian Nights , translated by Edward William Lane in the 1840s, and The Thousand Nights and a Night , translated by Richard Francis Burton in the 1880s.
       Based on the success of Arabian Nights , Universal made three more films in the 1940s derived from these stories: in 1944, the studio released Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves , which also starred Jon Hall and Maria Montez, this time under the direction of Arthur Lubin; in 1947, Universal made Song of Scheherazade , directed by Walter Reisch and starring Yvonne De Carlo and Turhan Bey; and in 1950, the studio filmed The Desert Hawk , directed by Frederick de Cordova and starring Yvonne De Carlo and Richard Greene (see entries above and below). Universal returned to the Arabian Night stories once more in 1953 with The Golden Blade , starring Rock Hudson and Piper Lauire, and directed by Nathan Juran. Among the numerous other films based on or inspired by Arabian Nights stories are: the Columbia 1945 release A Thousand and One Nights , directed by Alfred E. Green and starring Evelyn Keyes and Phil Silvers (See Entry); the 1959 cartoon 1001 Arabian Nights , directed by Jack Kinney and featuring the voice of Jim Backus as "Mr. Magoo"; and the 1974 Franco-Italian production Arabian Nights , directed by Pier Pablo Pasolini and starring Ninetto Davoli and Franco Merli. For information on other films based on stories from Arabian Nights , see the entries for Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and Sinbad the Sailor (see entries above and below). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
26 Dec 1942.
---
Daily Variety
3 Jul 1942.
---
Daily Variety
18 Dec 42
p. 3.
Film Daily
23 Dec 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Mar 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jun 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Jun 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jul 42
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jul 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Aug 42
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Sep 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Sep 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Dec 42
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
26 Dec 42
pp. 1090-91.
New York Times
26 Dec 42
p. 15.
Variety
23 Dec 42
p. 8.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Adia Kuznetzoff
Burnu Acquanetta
Johnnie Berkes
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
Story and scr
Addl dial
Contr to dial and spec seq
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Sketch artist
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Assoc
COSTUMES
Women's cost
MUSIC
Mus dir
SOUND
[Sd] tech
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short stories The Arabian Nights' Entertainment , translated by Antoine Galland (Paris, 1704).
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 December 1942
Production Date:
29 June--early September 1942
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
29 December 1942
Copyright Number:
LP11786
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
86-87
Length(in feet):
7,779
Country:
United States
PCA No:
8880
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After unsuccessfully attempting to overthrow the lawful regime of Haroun-al-Raschid, his brother, the Caliph of Bagdad, Kamar al Zaman, is sentenced to "the slow death." Seven days later, however, Kamar still lives, but before Haroun can give him to a merciful death, he makes his escape with the help of his followers. During the ensuing battle, Haroun is wounded and his troops are defeated. He is later found by Sherazade, a poor dancing girl who is the object of Kamar's unwanted affections, and Ali Ben Ali, an acrobat. In order to protect the injured Haroun, Ali places his royal ring on the finger of a dead rebel, and mistakenly believing his brother is dead, the people proclaim Kamar the new Caliph. He is unable to place Sherazade on the throne beside him, however, as her circus has gone into hiding. Meanwhile, Haroun is nursed back to health by Sherazade and Ali, with only the young acrobat knowing his true identity. The circus troupe then learns of Kamar's accession to the throne, but rather than being brought to the new Caliph, Sherazade and the circus performers are sold into slavery by the Captain, who had been ordered by Nadan, the Grand Vizier and Kamar's closest advisor, to kill the dancer. Kamar learns of the Captain's actions and goes in search of his love, while Nadan alone knows that Sherazade and the others are in the hands of slave trader Hakim. Nadan then purchases Sherazade at the slave auction just as Haroun and the others escape from their cell. Haroun saves Sherazade from Nadan's clutches, and, along with Ali and the others, they go to a ... +


After unsuccessfully attempting to overthrow the lawful regime of Haroun-al-Raschid, his brother, the Caliph of Bagdad, Kamar al Zaman, is sentenced to "the slow death." Seven days later, however, Kamar still lives, but before Haroun can give him to a merciful death, he makes his escape with the help of his followers. During the ensuing battle, Haroun is wounded and his troops are defeated. He is later found by Sherazade, a poor dancing girl who is the object of Kamar's unwanted affections, and Ali Ben Ali, an acrobat. In order to protect the injured Haroun, Ali places his royal ring on the finger of a dead rebel, and mistakenly believing his brother is dead, the people proclaim Kamar the new Caliph. He is unable to place Sherazade on the throne beside him, however, as her circus has gone into hiding. Meanwhile, Haroun is nursed back to health by Sherazade and Ali, with only the young acrobat knowing his true identity. The circus troupe then learns of Kamar's accession to the throne, but rather than being brought to the new Caliph, Sherazade and the circus performers are sold into slavery by the Captain, who had been ordered by Nadan, the Grand Vizier and Kamar's closest advisor, to kill the dancer. Kamar learns of the Captain's actions and goes in search of his love, while Nadan alone knows that Sherazade and the others are in the hands of slave trader Hakim. Nadan then purchases Sherazade at the slave auction just as Haroun and the others escape from their cell. Haroun saves Sherazade from Nadan's clutches, and, along with Ali and the others, they go to a nearby village, where they are released from their chains by a local blacksmith. Before they can escape by boat across the river, however, Kamar arrives and takes them to a desert city he has built in Sherazade's honor. Once there, Haroun is called before Nadan and is arrested for his love of Sherazade. Ali then sneaks into Kamar's harem to tell Sherazade of Haroun's plight, only to have Nadan arrive and offer to have Haroun released if she agrees to poison Kamar at their wedding banquet. Knowing that Nadan plans to have Haroun killed once his escort reaches the river, Ali and the others, who have finally learned Haroun's true identity, race to the river town to save their Caliph. Haroun then arrives at the wedding banquet just in time to stop Sherazade from drinking the poisoned wine. The two brothers then battle over the throne and Sherazade, while Ali arrives with soldiers loyal to Haroun. Kamar is about to kill Haroun, but is stabbed in the back by Nadan. After Ahmad, the circus owner, stops Nadan from killing the wounded Haroun, Nadan himself is killed by Valda, the circus strong man, as he attempts to escape. With order restored, Haroun regains his throne, and with it, the hand of Sherazade. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.