Action in Arabia (1944)

75 mins | Drama | 1944

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Danger in Damascus and International Zone . According to a NYT news item, the film was initially planned as an adaptation of M. V. Haberden's novel The Fantastic Fez . When the focus of the war shifted to the Middle East, however, the locale was changed from Algiers to Damascus and the budget increased by $100,000 to capitalize on current events. Although a HR news item states that this film was based on a novel by Charles Leonard, the Leonard novel is not credited by any other source. The Var review adds that footage of nomadic Arab life included in the film was shot in 1937 by Ernest B. Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper for the unrealized picture Lawrence of Arabia . According to a news item in HR , other location footage was directed by Robert Wise at Lasky Mesa, CA. A HR production chart places Joseph Vitale in the cast, but his participation in the released film has not been confirmed. The picture marked the screen debut of Michael Ansara. George Sanders was borrowed from Twentieth-Century Fox and Lenore Aubert from Samuel Goldwyn Productions, Inc. to appear in this ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Danger in Damascus and International Zone . According to a NYT news item, the film was initially planned as an adaptation of M. V. Haberden's novel The Fantastic Fez . When the focus of the war shifted to the Middle East, however, the locale was changed from Algiers to Damascus and the budget increased by $100,000 to capitalize on current events. Although a HR news item states that this film was based on a novel by Charles Leonard, the Leonard novel is not credited by any other source. The Var review adds that footage of nomadic Arab life included in the film was shot in 1937 by Ernest B. Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper for the unrealized picture Lawrence of Arabia . According to a news item in HR , other location footage was directed by Robert Wise at Lasky Mesa, CA. A HR production chart places Joseph Vitale in the cast, but his participation in the released film has not been confirmed. The picture marked the screen debut of Michael Ansara. George Sanders was borrowed from Twentieth-Century Fox and Lenore Aubert from Samuel Goldwyn Productions, Inc. to appear in this project. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
19 Feb 1944.
---
Daily Variety
16 Feb 44
p. 4.
Film Daily
18 Feb 44
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Oct 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 43
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Nov 43
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Dec 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Dec 43
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Feb 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Feb 44
p. 11.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Feb 44
p. 1746.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
19 Feb 44
p. 1762.
New York Times
12 Dec 1943.
---
New York Times
19 Feb 44
p. 18.
Variety
16 Feb 44
p. 10.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Orig scr, Orig scr
Orig scr, Orig scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
International Zone
Danger in Damascus
Premiere Information:
New York opening: week of 18 February 1944
Production Date:
late October--21 December 1943
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
16 February 1944
Copyright Number:
LP12591
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
75
Length(in feet):
6,760
Country:
United States
PCA No:
9754
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the spring of 1941, American newspaper correspondents Michael Gordon and William Chalmers land at the Damascus airport on their way home to the United States. The war has turned Damascus, the political center of the Arab world, into a breeding ground for espionage and intrigue. Consequently, when Gordon witnesses French diplomatic official Andre Leroux meet Mounirah Rashid, the daughter of a prominent Arab leader, the reporters are intrigued, and Chalmers decides to follow Leroux while Gordon checks into the Hotel International. At the hotel, Gordon is greeted by Mathew Reed, a member of the American Consulate, who accuses the reporter of stirring up trouble and orders him to leave town the following afternoon. Then, in the lobby, Gordon encounters Eric Latimer, a Nazi sympathizer who owns the hotel. When Yvonne, a glamorous woman, sashays through the lobby on her way to the gaming tables, Gordon follows her. As Gordon and Yvonne bet against each other, Latimer escorts gambler Josef Danesco to his office and, after exposing him as a cheat, makes him a proposition. Back at the gambling tables, Gordon wins Yvonne's stake and invites her to dinner to apologize. That night, as Gordon waits for Yvonne in the bar, he is approached by Danesco, who offers to sell him information regarding Nazi plans for the Arab countries. Claiming that he is not interested, Gordon joins Yvonne at her table. As the two begin to dance, Yvonne explains that she is in Damascus to care for her sick aunt. Their dance is interrupted by the police, who take Gordon to a camel market to identify Chalmers' dead body. After the police warn ... +


In the spring of 1941, American newspaper correspondents Michael Gordon and William Chalmers land at the Damascus airport on their way home to the United States. The war has turned Damascus, the political center of the Arab world, into a breeding ground for espionage and intrigue. Consequently, when Gordon witnesses French diplomatic official Andre Leroux meet Mounirah Rashid, the daughter of a prominent Arab leader, the reporters are intrigued, and Chalmers decides to follow Leroux while Gordon checks into the Hotel International. At the hotel, Gordon is greeted by Mathew Reed, a member of the American Consulate, who accuses the reporter of stirring up trouble and orders him to leave town the following afternoon. Then, in the lobby, Gordon encounters Eric Latimer, a Nazi sympathizer who owns the hotel. When Yvonne, a glamorous woman, sashays through the lobby on her way to the gaming tables, Gordon follows her. As Gordon and Yvonne bet against each other, Latimer escorts gambler Josef Danesco to his office and, after exposing him as a cheat, makes him a proposition. Back at the gambling tables, Gordon wins Yvonne's stake and invites her to dinner to apologize. That night, as Gordon waits for Yvonne in the bar, he is approached by Danesco, who offers to sell him information regarding Nazi plans for the Arab countries. Claiming that he is not interested, Gordon joins Yvonne at her table. As the two begin to dance, Yvonne explains that she is in Damascus to care for her sick aunt. Their dance is interrupted by the police, who take Gordon to a camel market to identify Chalmers' dead body. After the police warn Gordon that he is under suspicion for Chalmers' murder, the reporter visits Reed at the American Consulate to question him about Leroux. When Reed refuses to provide him with any information, Gordon, feeling guilty about his friend's death, returns to the camel market to question the Arab who found Chalmers' body. When the man shows Gordon the German currency that the men whom Chalmers was following used to pay for his camels, the reporter realizes that Leroux is a Nazi collaborator. The next morning, Gordon returns to the the market and meets Danesco, who offers to sell him Leroux's address. When Gordon goes to the house, however, he finds Yvonne playing the piano. After Gordon refuses to believe Yvonne's story that she is Leroux's niece, she claims that she is a Free French agent who has been assigned to protect him from the Nazis. When he is prevented from leaving the house by armed guards, Gordon attracts the attention of a passing police car by throwing a table through the window. Escorted from the house by the police and Reed, a passenger in the car, Gordon tells the Consul that Latimer, Danesco and Leroux are all involved in a Nazi plot. In the market, Gordon's suspicions are confirmed when he sees Danesco and Latimer drive off together and discovers that their destination is an abandoned airstrip. Reed, concerned that Latimer may try to interfere with a meeting between the Arab leaders and the Allies, which is to be held that day at Rashid's desert estate, declares that he is now off duty and is joining Gordon's quest. At the airstrip, Gordon and Reed watch as Latimer and Danesco drive up, followed by Yvonne. Realizing that Latimer plans to fly to the desert summit, Gordon knocks him and his pilot unconscious and forces Danesco to board the plane and direct them to Rashid's estate. Yvonne jumps into her car to pursue them and is followed by Latimer and his men. From the air, Gordon and Reed observe caravans of Arabs convening in the desert and realize that Latimer has planned an Arab insurrection that would draw Allied troops away from the Suez Canal, thus making it vulnerable to Axis armies. Arriving at the Rashid estate just as Kareem, a tribal leader, gallops off, Gordon introduces himself to Mounirah and warns her that Kareem is planning to lead the assembled Arab tribes against the Allies. Believing that the tribes are residing peacefully in their camps, Mounirah refuses to believe Gordon until Reed appears and confirms his report. At that moment, Yvonne drives up and, after warning Gordon that he is in danger and must leave at once, admits that Danesco is her father. Ignoring Yvonne's warning, Gordon insists on telling his story to Rashid. Rashid discounts Gordon's claims of Kareem's treachery until the reporter burns Leroux with a lighted cigarette, causing the Nazi agent to cry out in German. Exposed, Leroux orders his agents, who have infiltrated Rashid's household, to kill his staff. Gordon tries to overpower Leroux, and is aided by Reed, who shoots the Nazi and throws Gordon some Arab robes to wear as a disguise. Before dying, Leroux turns and kills Reed, but Rashid, Mounirah, Gordon and Yvonne don the robes and run into the courtyard unharmed. There they are met by Latimer and his men, who shoot Gordon and take him prisoner. As Rashid and Mounirah escape into the desert to warn their followers of Kareem's treachery, Yvonne stays behind and, after killing Gordon's guard, tricks Latimer's men into loading the reporter into her car. She then speeds away into the desert and, after picking up Rashid and Mounirah, drives to the plane. Taking off just as Latimer and his men arrive, they fly to the Arab encampment, where Rashid exposes Kareem as a traitor. Infuriated by their betrayal, the tribes gallop off to kill Latimer and his men. With the Nazi plot quashed, Yvonne and Gordon board a plan to leave Damascus. In the seat assigned to Yvonne's father, they find a plump women who tells them that Danesco sold her his ticket at a bargain price. Yvonne and Gordon then wave goodbye to Danesco, who is in the terminal, trying to interest a tourist in buying some information. +

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.