Little Egypt (1951)

81-82 mins | Drama | September 1951

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HISTORY

According to a 11 Oct 1950 news item in the LAHE , Shelley Winters was scheduled to star in the film. In a memo dated 11 Sep 1950 contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, PCA director Joseph I. Breen advised Universal to gather "proper technical advice with respect to all scenes laid in Egypt, as well as to the various Egyptian characters in the story" in order to be certain that nothing in the film would be "offensive to Egyptians." In another memo dated 22 Nov 1950, Breen also questioned the advisability of retaining a reference to the Egyptian government.
       It is unclear from the film whether "Izora" is actually Egyptian, or is in fact "Betty Randolph from Jersey City," as argued by the prosecution in the film's court sequence. According to Har , the film's story is fictional, but was based on a real-life personality, Fahreda Mahzar, an Egyptian dancer who brought the hootchy-kootchy dance to the Streets of Cairo exhibit at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. The 24 Nov 1950 HR production chart includes Jerome Cowan in the cast, but his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. A Dec 1950 HR news item states that Screenwriters Guild credit arbitrators decided Doris Gilbert would receive joint credit with Oscar Brodney for the film's screenplay. The nature of this dispute, however, has not been ... More Less

According to a 11 Oct 1950 news item in the LAHE , Shelley Winters was scheduled to star in the film. In a memo dated 11 Sep 1950 contained in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, PCA director Joseph I. Breen advised Universal to gather "proper technical advice with respect to all scenes laid in Egypt, as well as to the various Egyptian characters in the story" in order to be certain that nothing in the film would be "offensive to Egyptians." In another memo dated 22 Nov 1950, Breen also questioned the advisability of retaining a reference to the Egyptian government.
       It is unclear from the film whether "Izora" is actually Egyptian, or is in fact "Betty Randolph from Jersey City," as argued by the prosecution in the film's court sequence. According to Har , the film's story is fictional, but was based on a real-life personality, Fahreda Mahzar, an Egyptian dancer who brought the hootchy-kootchy dance to the Streets of Cairo exhibit at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. The 24 Nov 1950 HR production chart includes Jerome Cowan in the cast, but his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. A Dec 1950 HR news item states that Screenwriters Guild credit arbitrators decided Doris Gilbert would receive joint credit with Oscar Brodney for the film's screenplay. The nature of this dispute, however, has not been determined. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
4 Aug 1951.
---
Daily Variety
30 Jul 51
p. 3.
Film Daily
2 Aug 51
p. 6.
Harrison's Reports
4 Aug 51
p. 124.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Nov 50
p. 7, 11.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Nov 50
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Dec 50
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Dec 50
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jul 51
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 51
p. 2.
Los Angeles Herald Express
11 Oct 1950.
---
Motion Picture Daily
Jul 31 1951.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
4 Aug 51
pp. 965-66.
New York Times
30 Aug 51
p. 20.
The Exhibitor
15 Aug 51
p. 3128.
Variety
1 Aug 51
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Thomas Brown Henry
Ethyl May Halls
Steve Wayne
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Addl dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Asst cam op
ART DIRECTORS
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
MUSIC
DANCE
Dances staged by
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Tech adv
Coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
Technicolor tech
Technicolor tech
DETAILS
Release Date:
September 1951
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Chicago 3 August 1951
New York opening: 29 August 1951
Production Date:
24 November--late December 1950
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co.
Copyright Date:
28 June 1951
Copyright Number:
LP1072
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
81-82
Length(in feet):
7,366
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15134
SYNOPSIS

Cyrus Graydon, a tobacco tycoon, visits Egypt in the hopes of bringing to America real Egyptians to populate his Cairo street exhibit, which is scheduled to be unveiled at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Assisting him are a pasha and an American con man, Wayne Cravat, who are trying to swindle Graydon into financing the phony "Nile Reclamation Project," a plan that they claim will give Graydon more access to the Egyptian tobacco that he has made such a success. After Cravat selects the Egyptian natives who will be transported to Chicago, he and the pasha go to the Café Fez, where they watch the performance of Izora, a beautiful Egyptian dancer with a mysterious past. The pasha, in love, announces his intent to bring Izora with him to Chicago, but Cravat, worried that the scheme will be ruined if the pasha shows up with a café dancer, visits her after the show and convinces her to stay in Cairo, telling her that he is in love with her and will return. The ambitious Izora agrees to stay behind, but then shows up on the freighter bound for America with her troop of beautiful veiled dance attendants. Once in Chicago, Cravat learns that the pasha is still in Cairo because he had been reported to the Egyptian authorities, and he deduces that the ambitious Izora maneuvered the pasha's seizure. Izora tells the assembled press as well as the Graydons that she is an Egyptian princess who has come to Chicago in the pasha's stead, and she is greeted enthusiastically by Graydon's high-class friends and family. At first, Cravat tries to send her away, but then realizes ... +


Cyrus Graydon, a tobacco tycoon, visits Egypt in the hopes of bringing to America real Egyptians to populate his Cairo street exhibit, which is scheduled to be unveiled at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Assisting him are a pasha and an American con man, Wayne Cravat, who are trying to swindle Graydon into financing the phony "Nile Reclamation Project," a plan that they claim will give Graydon more access to the Egyptian tobacco that he has made such a success. After Cravat selects the Egyptian natives who will be transported to Chicago, he and the pasha go to the Café Fez, where they watch the performance of Izora, a beautiful Egyptian dancer with a mysterious past. The pasha, in love, announces his intent to bring Izora with him to Chicago, but Cravat, worried that the scheme will be ruined if the pasha shows up with a café dancer, visits her after the show and convinces her to stay in Cairo, telling her that he is in love with her and will return. The ambitious Izora agrees to stay behind, but then shows up on the freighter bound for America with her troop of beautiful veiled dance attendants. Once in Chicago, Cravat learns that the pasha is still in Cairo because he had been reported to the Egyptian authorities, and he deduces that the ambitious Izora maneuvered the pasha's seizure. Izora tells the assembled press as well as the Graydons that she is an Egyptian princess who has come to Chicago in the pasha's stead, and she is greeted enthusiastically by Graydon's high-class friends and family. At first, Cravat tries to send her away, but then realizes that together they may be able to pull off the scheme. Later, at a party thrown to welcome Izora, Cravat, wishing to secure his position with Graydon, tries to woo Sylvia, the tycoon's daughter, and the fake princess becomes annoyed. To get back at him, Izora flirts with Oliver Doane, Sylvia's fiancé. At the World's Fair, Izora strolls through Little Cairo with Doane and is recognized by the street people, and Moulai, a fortune-teller, threatens her with blackmail. Later, while socializing with the Doanes and the Graydons at the Café Fez, Izora receives a note from Cravat saying that the Nile Reclamation Project is on hold and that Izora must return to Cairo due to important business. When a disgusted Izora lights up a cigarette, Mrs. Doane, Oliver's mother and an advocate for women's rights, is thrilled at this display of freedom and joins her. Izora is convinced that Cravat desires Sylvia, but at a private party thrown in her honor, he explains that his relations with the young heiress are strictly business. Cravat continues to court Sylvia and the newspapers announce their engagement, much to Izora's fury. Izora refuses to accept Cravat's apologies, and meanwhile, the shareholders at the Fair are worried about the lack of public interest in the Cairo street exhibit. Mrs. Doane suggests that Izora perform traditional ceremonial dances at the Café Fez, and Izora, thrilled at the idea, agrees, despite Cravat's disapproval. Before her performance of the "hootchy-kootchy," which she will dance in a revealing costume, Izora explains her intentions to Max, Cravat's sidekick. She plans to embarrass Cravat and expose both their impersonations, hoping that it will bring Cravat, the man she loves, back to his senses. When Izora appears onstage in her "hootchy-kootchy" outfit, the Doanes and Graydons are shocked, and women leave the club in droves. After Izora deliberately provokes a brawl among some sailors, the police arrive and haul Izora to jail for indecent exposure and inciting a riot. Cravat arrives at the jail, intending to send Izora to New York so that he can talk his way out of the fiasco, but Mrs. Doane shows up with her lawyers, claiming that all the city's women's rights clubs support Izora's right to dance. Graydon then tells Cravat that the fair is doing marvellously thanks to Izora, and that he is going to put a picture of the dancing princess in each of his cigarette packages. Although aware that she is not a princess, Graydon dubs her "Little Egypt" and hands Cravat a $100,000 advance check. Izora again performs her sexy dance, but Mrs. Doane, who was only pretending to support the "hootchy-kootchy girl," alerts the police, who again arrest her. In court, Cravat stands by Izora, defending her himself by virtue of an archaic law which allows friends to defend the accused. The prosecution shows a film of the performance as evidence, and Cravat brings in an alleged professor of Egyptology, who testifies that Izora's dances are authentic. The prosecution, however, reveals that the witness is merely a professor at the Antioch Barber College. After Cravat takes the stand and his cover is blown, the pasha arrives as a witness for the prosecution. However, just as he is about to ruin Izora and Cravat's credibility, Izora pretends to faint and a recess is called. During the break, now in-love couple gives the pasha Graydon's check, thus convincing him to support them. When the pasha takes the stand, he claims that Izora is indeed his cousin and an honorary princess, not Betty Randolph from Jersey City, as the prosecution has discovered. Just as the judge calls the case closed, the Egyptian calif arrives, calls the pasha an impostor, and seizes Graydon's check for the Egyptian government. Izora's charges are dismissed, and back at the Café Fez, Izora dances before an overflow crowd, while Cravat watches admiringly from backstage. +

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

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