Lost in a Harem (1944)

89-90 mins | Comedy | December 1944

Director:

Charles F. Reisner

Producer:

George Haight

Cinematographer:

Lester White

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Daniel B. Cathcart

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Harem Scarem . Production on the film, which originally was to start in Mar 1943 with Desi Arnaz playing the prince, was postponed for a year because of Costello's battle with rheumatic fever. According to an Oct 1942 HR news item, Frederick Jackson was first assigned to write the project, but his contribution to the completed film has not been confirmed. Former Abbott and Costello writer John Grant, who received a screenwriting credit on the film, was also a producer at Universal, according to HR . In early Mar 1944, HR announced that David Street, a singer on the Joan Davis-Jack Haley radio show, was being considered for the role of "Prince Ramo." Murray Leonard performed on stage with Abbott and Costello during their vaudeville years. In the film, Leonard, who plays "The Derelict," does the famous crazed killer vaudeville routine, which begins with the words, "Slowly I turn, step by step, inch by inch." Although a HR news item announced James Clemons as a cast member, playing a "desert chieftain," his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. According to a 30 Mar 1944 HR news item, George Hively replaced Ben Lewis as editor shortly after principal photography began. Another HR news item reported that a "flower number" and a song called "Noche de Ronda" were being prepared for the film, but they were not included in the completed film. According to M-G-M publicity material contained at the AMPAS Library, a "romantic ballad" called "It Is Written" by Ralph Freed and ... More Less

The working title of this film was Harem Scarem . Production on the film, which originally was to start in Mar 1943 with Desi Arnaz playing the prince, was postponed for a year because of Costello's battle with rheumatic fever. According to an Oct 1942 HR news item, Frederick Jackson was first assigned to write the project, but his contribution to the completed film has not been confirmed. Former Abbott and Costello writer John Grant, who received a screenwriting credit on the film, was also a producer at Universal, according to HR . In early Mar 1944, HR announced that David Street, a singer on the Joan Davis-Jack Haley radio show, was being considered for the role of "Prince Ramo." Murray Leonard performed on stage with Abbott and Costello during their vaudeville years. In the film, Leonard, who plays "The Derelict," does the famous crazed killer vaudeville routine, which begins with the words, "Slowly I turn, step by step, inch by inch." Although a HR news item announced James Clemons as a cast member, playing a "desert chieftain," his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. According to a 30 Mar 1944 HR news item, George Hively replaced Ben Lewis as editor shortly after principal photography began. Another HR news item reported that a "flower number" and a song called "Noche de Ronda" were being prepared for the film, but they were not included in the completed film. According to M-G-M publicity material contained at the AMPAS Library, a "romantic ballad" called "It Is Written" by Ralph Freed and Sammy Fain was composed for the film, but the only Freed and Fain song performed in the picture was "Sons of the Desert." An early Mar 1944 HR news item noted that M-G-M voice coach Kay Thompson was hired to "develop" the song and dance routine used in the "Sons of the Desert" number. The exact nature of Thompson's contribution to the final film has not been determined, however. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
2 Sep 1944.
---
Daily Variety
29 Aug 44
p. 3.
Film Daily
31 Aug 44
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Oct 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Mar 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Mar 43
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Mar 43
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Nov 43
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Mar 44
p. 32.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Mar 44
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 44
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Mar 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Mar 44
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Mar 44
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Mar 44
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Apr 44
p. 10, 14
Hollywood Reporter
26 May 44
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
31 May 44
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Aug 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Nov 44
p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
15 Apr 44
p. 1850.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
2 Sep 44
p. 2081.
New York Times
9 Nov 44
p. 23.
Variety
30 Aug 44
p. 10.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Adia Kuznetzoff
and His Orchestra
Katharine Booth
Tiny Newland
Johnny Berkes
Jimmy Dime
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Mus prod dir by
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Assoc
Men's cost
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus dir
Orch
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
MAKEUP
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Matte paintings
Matte cam
Unit mgr
SOURCES
MUSIC
Excerpts from the ballet Scheherezade by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov.
SONGS
"What Does It Take," words and music by Gene DePaul and Don Raye
"Sons of the Desert," words and music by Sammy Fain and Ralph Freed.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Harem Scarem
Release Date:
December 1944
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 8 November 1944
Production Date:
late March--early June 1944
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
22 August 1944
Copyright Number:
LP216
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
89-90
Length(in feet):
7,998
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
10118
SYNOPSIS

In the mythical Arab city of Port Inferno, nightclub owner Ormulu makes a deal with American singer Hazel Moon to allow magicians Peter Johnson and Harvey Garvey to perform at the club if she agrees to meet with Prince Ramo, a seemingly ardent admirer. During that night's badly received show, however, Harvey inadvertently instigates a brawl, and he, Peter and Hazel are arrested and tossed into a jail cell with a deranged derelict. Still determined to meet Hazel, Ramo slips the Americans a loaf of bread with a saw baked inside it, and despite Harvey's repeated blunders, the entertainers manage to escape. The prince then takes the trio to his desert camp and there explains that his uncle, Nimativ, usurped his throne and is a cruel despot. Ramo asks Hazel for help in reclaiming his throne, and she consents on condition that Peter and Harvey, who once helped her when she was stranded, accompany her. After they arrive at Nimativ's palace in Barabeeha, Ramo reveals his plan to the Americans: The fair-haired Hazel is to distract his blonde-crazy uncle long enough for Peter and Harvey to steal the two rings with which Nimativ hypnotizes and controls his enemies. As hoped, Nimativ is immediately taken with Hazel, but when Harvey displays a blatant interest in Nimativ's rings, Nimativ becomes suspicious and hypnotizes all three. Nimativ forces them to reveal their mission and convinces Hazel that she wants to marry him. As he is leaving with Hazel, Nimativ calls Harvey and Peter "termites," and the two imprisoned men suddenly find themselves eating furniture. After Nimativ announces to his court that the next day, Hazel is ... +


In the mythical Arab city of Port Inferno, nightclub owner Ormulu makes a deal with American singer Hazel Moon to allow magicians Peter Johnson and Harvey Garvey to perform at the club if she agrees to meet with Prince Ramo, a seemingly ardent admirer. During that night's badly received show, however, Harvey inadvertently instigates a brawl, and he, Peter and Hazel are arrested and tossed into a jail cell with a deranged derelict. Still determined to meet Hazel, Ramo slips the Americans a loaf of bread with a saw baked inside it, and despite Harvey's repeated blunders, the entertainers manage to escape. The prince then takes the trio to his desert camp and there explains that his uncle, Nimativ, usurped his throne and is a cruel despot. Ramo asks Hazel for help in reclaiming his throne, and she consents on condition that Peter and Harvey, who once helped her when she was stranded, accompany her. After they arrive at Nimativ's palace in Barabeeha, Ramo reveals his plan to the Americans: The fair-haired Hazel is to distract his blonde-crazy uncle long enough for Peter and Harvey to steal the two rings with which Nimativ hypnotizes and controls his enemies. As hoped, Nimativ is immediately taken with Hazel, but when Harvey displays a blatant interest in Nimativ's rings, Nimativ becomes suspicious and hypnotizes all three. Nimativ forces them to reveal their mission and convinces Hazel that she wants to marry him. As he is leaving with Hazel, Nimativ calls Harvey and Peter "termites," and the two imprisoned men suddenly find themselves eating furniture. After Nimativ announces to his court that the next day, Hazel is to become his thirty-eighth wife, Ramo sneaks into her room and breaks her trance by pricking her with a pin. Although angry at Ramo for placing her in danger, Hazel, who is falling in love with the prince, agrees to help him by pretending that she is still hypnotized. Ramo then awakens Harvey and Peter from their trance, and the three men attempt to escape the palace. Ramo is captured, but by claiming to be Hollywood talent scouts, Harvey and Peter talk Bobo, a gargantuan guard, and Teema, Nimativ's first wife, into allowing them to hide in the palace harem. When Nimativ comes to search the harem, Teema, who is jealous of Hazel, feigns ignorance and steals Nimativ's key to Hazel's room. From his hiding place, Harvey then steals the key from Teema, but unthinkingly hands it back to Nimativ when he demands its return from Teema. Once again, the Americans flee, but are captured and thrown into the palace dungeon. Also imprisoned in the dungeon is the crazed derelict, who converses with and "kills" an imaginary friend named Mike. Noise from Mike's "murder" alerts Bobo, and still insisting they are talent scouts, Peter and Harvey once again talk the guard into letting them escape. Finding themselves in the royal clothes closet, the magicians then put on Nimativ's and Teema's clothes. Before they can sneak out, however, Nimativ catches them and attacks Peter, who knocks him out. While Nimativ is unconscious, Peter and Harvey steal his rings, then wake him up and hypnotize him, ordering him to give Ramo back his throne. Before Nimativ can act on the command, he is pricked by a thorn from a rose that Harvey has given him and awakens from his trance. Nimativ demands that Harvey and Peter be executed, but Bobo and Teema, who is also determined to go to Hollywood, conspire to stop the beheading by starting a harem show just as the executioner's ax is about to fall. During the ensuing commotion, Ramo swarms the palace with his men, and Nimativ is routed. After Peter and Harvey send Nimativ, who has been hypnotized into believing he is a dog, to the palace "kennel," Hazel makes plans to remain with a loving Ramo. Harvey and Peter are then chauffeured out of Barabeeha, but soon discover that their driver is the deranged derelict. +

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

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