Kismet (1944)

100 or 103 mins | Adventure | October 1944

Director:

William Dieterle

Writer:

John Meehan

Producer:

Everett Riskin

Cinematographer:

Charles Rosher

Editor:

Ben Lewis

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Corp.
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HISTORY

The film's opening credits conclude with captioned photographs of the principal actors and a voice-over narration introducing their characters and their relationship to one another. HR news items and M-G-M publicity items add the following information about the production: Lawrence Hazard and novelist John Erskine were both assigned to write the screenplay, but their contributions to the completed film, if any, have not been confirmed. William Powell was first cast as the beggar (who was named "Hajj" in Edward Knoblock's play and in earlier film versions), and Richard Carlson was first cast as the "Caliph." Vera Zorina, Virginia Bruce and Marilyn Maxwell tested for the role of "Jamilla." Katharine Balfour and Mia Slavenska were tested for unspecified roles, and Leatrice Joy Gilbert, the daughter of actor John Gilbert, was to make her screen debut as "Rallah," a water bearer. Their participation in the completed film has not been confirmed, however. In addition, dance director Jack Cole was to appear in one of the dance sequences, but his onscreen participation has not been confirmed.
       Kismet marked the first and only time that Marlene Dietrich appeared in an M-G-M film. According to modern sources, the film was to be the first of a two-picture deal for Dietrich, but the studio never found another project for her. According to Life , Dietrich's legs were covered with four coats of golden paint, and her dyed-blonde hair was sprinkled with powdered gold for her dance number. The article notes that Dietrich first wore gold-chain trousers for the scene, but switched to paint because the chains kept breaking. Art director Cedric Gibbons and ... More Less

The film's opening credits conclude with captioned photographs of the principal actors and a voice-over narration introducing their characters and their relationship to one another. HR news items and M-G-M publicity items add the following information about the production: Lawrence Hazard and novelist John Erskine were both assigned to write the screenplay, but their contributions to the completed film, if any, have not been confirmed. William Powell was first cast as the beggar (who was named "Hajj" in Edward Knoblock's play and in earlier film versions), and Richard Carlson was first cast as the "Caliph." Vera Zorina, Virginia Bruce and Marilyn Maxwell tested for the role of "Jamilla." Katharine Balfour and Mia Slavenska were tested for unspecified roles, and Leatrice Joy Gilbert, the daughter of actor John Gilbert, was to make her screen debut as "Rallah," a water bearer. Their participation in the completed film has not been confirmed, however. In addition, dance director Jack Cole was to appear in one of the dance sequences, but his onscreen participation has not been confirmed.
       Kismet marked the first and only time that Marlene Dietrich appeared in an M-G-M film. According to modern sources, the film was to be the first of a two-picture deal for Dietrich, but the studio never found another project for her. According to Life , Dietrich's legs were covered with four coats of golden paint, and her dyed-blonde hair was sprinkled with powdered gold for her dance number. The article notes that Dietrich first wore gold-chain trousers for the scene, but switched to paint because the chains kept breaking. Art director Cedric Gibbons and producer Everett Riskin reportedly developed a new Technicolor technique for the film. In contrast to earlier Technicolor films, colors were to be selected to create a realistic look, not just to distract the eye. Another Sep 1943 M-G-M press item announced that Kismet was to be one of the "first productions to take account of the new world awareness" and noted that director William Dieterle was "taking pains to ensure that no offense" would be given to "Muslim moviegoers." A Dec 1943 HR news item announced that New York painter Louise Schact had been hired for a "special exploitation assignment" in connection with the film, but the exact nature of her contribution has not been determined.
       Edward Knoblock's play has been filmed many times, all under the title Kismet . The first version was produced in 1914 in Great Britain by Zenith Pictures in 1914, and was directed by Leedham Bantock and starred Oscar Asche. In 1920, Louis J. Gasnier directed Otis Skinner, the star of the stage play, in the first American version, which was produced by Robertson-Cole. Skinner appeared again in the role in First National's 1930 sound version, directed by John Francis Dillon. In 1931, First National released a German-language version directed by William Dieterle. In 1955, after Knoblock's play had been turned into a successful Broadway musical, M-G-M made its second version, a musical directed by Vincente Minnelli and starring Howard Keel and Ann Blyth. The play was then adapted for television and was broadcast on the ABC network on 24 Oct 1967, with José Ferrer and Anna Maria Alberghetti in the lead roles. To avoid confusion with the 1955 version, the 1944 theatrical version was later broadcast on television under the title An Oriental Dream . More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
26 Aug 1944.
---
Daily Variety
22 Aug 44
p. 3, 6
Film Daily
22 Aug 44
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Jul 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Oct 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jun 43
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jun 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jun 43
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jun 43
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 43
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jul 43
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Aug 43
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Aug 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Aug 43
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 43
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Sep 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 43
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Jan 44
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jan 44
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Mar 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Aug 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Aug 44
p. 8.
Life
29 Nov 43
pp. 119-121, 125
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
20 Nov 43
p. 1635.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
26 Aug 44
p. 2065.
New York Times
23 Aug 44
p. 16.
Variety
23 Aug 44
p. 18.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Joy Ann Page
Pete Cusanelli
Dale Van Sickle
Jack "Tiny" Lipson
Pedro De Cordoba
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Cost executed by
MUSIC
Mus score
Orchestral collaboration
SOUND
Rec dir
Unit mixer
Re-rec and eff mixer
Re-rec and eff mixer
Re-rec and eff mixer
Re-rec and eff mixer
Re-rec and eff mixer
Re-rec and eff mixer
Re-rec and eff mixer
Mus mixer
Mus mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff cam
Miniatures, spec photog eff and transparecy shots
DANCE
Dance dir
Asst dance dir
MAKEUP
Makeup created by
Hair styles created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
STAND INS
Singing double for Joy Ann Page
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
Assoc
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Kismet by Edward Knoblock (New York, 25 Dec 1911).
SONGS
"Tell Me, Tell Me, Evening Star" and "Willow in the Wind," music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by E. Y. Harburg.
DETAILS
Release Date:
October 1944
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 22 August 1944
Production Date:
late August 1943--4 January 1944
addl scenes began 27 January 1944 and 3 March 1944
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
22 August 1944
Copyright Number:
LP185
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
100 or 103
Length(in feet):
8,990
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
9797
SYNOPSIS

In ancient Baghdad, Hafiz, the so-called "king of the beggars," spends his days performing magic tricks for wealthy men and coaxing them out of their money, and his nights posing as the Prince of Hassir in the city's colorful taverns. Hafiz' beautiful daughter Marsinah is his pride and joy, and as he has vowed that she will marry a prince, he has built a high wall around their house and forbidden her to go out on her own. One night, while wearing his princely guise, Hafiz meets the Caliph, the new ruler of Arabia, who is posing as the carousing son of the royal gardener. Unaware of the Caliph's identity, Hafiz insults the new king and calls him a "yahoo." Hafiz then receives a message from his secret lover Jamilla, and rushes to meet her, unaware that she is the Grand Vizier's palace queen. Although the bored Jamilla knows that Hafiz is a liar, she nonetheless enjoys his charm and encourages his attentions. While Hafiz romances Jamilla, the Caliph, still posing as a peasant, makes love to Marsinah, who has escaped from her father's "prison." The Caliph is so entranced by Marsinah that as soon as he returns to his palace, he announces to his advisor, Agha, that he is marrying her the next day. The Caliph also makes arrangements for the Grand Vizier to be tried the next day for corruption. The next morning, Hafiz, who has suddenly become aware that his lovestruck daughter is all but grown, mopes around the marketplace, despondent because he has found no princely prospects for her. Hafiz' sad contemplations are interrupted by the attempted assassination of the ... +


In ancient Baghdad, Hafiz, the so-called "king of the beggars," spends his days performing magic tricks for wealthy men and coaxing them out of their money, and his nights posing as the Prince of Hassir in the city's colorful taverns. Hafiz' beautiful daughter Marsinah is his pride and joy, and as he has vowed that she will marry a prince, he has built a high wall around their house and forbidden her to go out on her own. One night, while wearing his princely guise, Hafiz meets the Caliph, the new ruler of Arabia, who is posing as the carousing son of the royal gardener. Unaware of the Caliph's identity, Hafiz insults the new king and calls him a "yahoo." Hafiz then receives a message from his secret lover Jamilla, and rushes to meet her, unaware that she is the Grand Vizier's palace queen. Although the bored Jamilla knows that Hafiz is a liar, she nonetheless enjoys his charm and encourages his attentions. While Hafiz romances Jamilla, the Caliph, still posing as a peasant, makes love to Marsinah, who has escaped from her father's "prison." The Caliph is so entranced by Marsinah that as soon as he returns to his palace, he announces to his advisor, Agha, that he is marrying her the next day. The Caliph also makes arrangements for the Grand Vizier to be tried the next day for corruption. The next morning, Hafiz, who has suddenly become aware that his lovestruck daughter is all but grown, mopes around the marketplace, despondent because he has found no princely prospects for her. Hafiz' sad contemplations are interrupted by the attempted assassination of the Caliph, who has been targeted by the powerful, ambitious Grand Vizier. After witnessing the Grand Vizier's quick execution of the failed assassin, Hafiz determines to make Marsinah the Grand Vizier's new queen. To that end, Hafiz uses his magic skills to steal some clothes from the royal merchants, then tricks the Grand Vizier's own guards into securing an elephant for his "royal" transport. Presenting himself at the Grand Vizier's court as the newly arrived Prince of Hassir, Hafiz quickly ingratiates himself with the ruler. When Hafiz boldly denigrates the Grand Vizier's dancing girls, the Grand Vizier begs Jamilla, who was given to him as part of a political deal, to dance for his guest. Jamilla at first refuses, but upon learning that the guest is her lover, the Prince of Hassir, she performs her most seductive dance. During a private moment, Hafiz reassures Jamilla that he is still a rogue and pledges to free her that night. Hafiz then convinces the Grand Vizier to grant Marsinah, his "princess," an audience. As Hafiz is telling a stunned Marsinah about the Grand Vizier, however, police arrive at his house and arrest him for robbery. Hafiz is dragged back to the Grand Vizier, who laughingly orders that the impostor's hands be chopped off. Just before the blow is delivered, however, the Grand Vizier learns that his palace has been surrounded by the Caliph's soldiers. The Grand Vizier is then ordered to appear before the Caliph in open court. Seeing his opportunity, the still-bound Hafiz shouts out that he can help the Grand Vizier defeat his enemy, then agrees to assassinate the Caliph on condition that the Grand Vizier makes Marsinah his new queen. Hafiz rushes home to tell Marsinah the good news, but Marsinah refuses the marriage, declaring that she loves another. Ignoring her tears, Hafiz commands Marsinah to go to the Grand Vizier, who upon seeing her, orders Jamilla to step down as queen. Jamilla fights her dethronement until she realizes Hafiz is behind it and assumes he is acting on her behalf. As planned, Hafiz then goes with the Grand Vizier to open court and auditions to be the Caliph's royal magician. While Hafiz performs his magic, the Caliph realizes he is Marsinah's father, but before he can embrace him as his future in-law, Hafiz hurls a knife at him. The knife misses its mark, and Hafiz is immediately seized, but after hearing the Caliph announce that he is going to marry Marsinah, Hafiz escapes. Hafiz rushes to the Grand Vizier's palace to free Marsinah, who has since revealed to Jamilla her father's true identity, but is challenged by the Grand Vizier. After a fierce fight, Hafiz finally kills the Grand Vizier and is then recaptured by the Caliph. As punishment, the Caliph pronounces Hafiz the new prince of Hassir and orders him to leave for the remote region at sunset. The Caliph then pulls down Hafiz' wall and carries a thrilled Marsinah off to her royal wedding. As the happy young couple parades through the streets of Baghdad, Hafiz and his new bride, Jamilla, set off for life in Hassir, content that "kismet," or fate, has at last been kind to them. +

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

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