This post has been revised and republished as part of the My Love of Old Hollywood Horseathon, hosted by Page, from May 25 through May 28, 2012. Saddle up, y'all!
After Stanley Donen’s Hitchcockian romantic comedy-thriller Charade
(1963) became a smash hit, Donen had a decision to make: play it safe and make another film just like it (this was in the days before filmmakers sequel-ed popular films to death, lazily giving them titles like Hit Movie Part 2),
or boldly go where he hadn’t gone before? Donen opted for a little of both with Arabesque
has just about everything a moviegoer could want in a fun escapist movie: spine-tingling suspense; international intrigue; delightful onscreen romantic chemistry between Oscar-winners Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren (though the Oscars they won weren't for Arabesque;
Peck won his Best Actor Oscar for To Kill a Mockingbird
while Loren had won her Best Actress Oscar the previous year for Two Women);
witty dialogue and sight gags; eye-catching English locations; jazzy Henry Mancini
music with autoharps and mandolas providing exotic Middle Eastern-sounding motifs; inventive visuals with a pop art vibe; and the beguiling Sophia in fabulous Christian Dior frocks and footwear, courtesy of the scene-stealing villain played by renowned character actor Alan Badel (Day of the Jackal; This Sporting Life; Children of the Damned)
as our heroine's foot-fetishist sugar daddy! What’s not to love?
|The eyes have it, and Prof. Ragheed's gonna
get it! |
If the delightful Charade
was Alfred Hitchcock Lite, then Arabesque
is Hitchcock Lite after taking a few classes in James Bond 101, including an opening title sequence by Maurice Binder, who also did the honors for Charade
as well as for most of the Bond movies. Gregory Peck plays David Pollack, a hieroglyphics expert and Yank professor at Oxford who finds himself embroiled in Middle Eastern intrigue while decoding the MacGuffin, a cipher (which also happens to be the title of the Gordon Cotler novel which inspired the film, adapted for the silver screen by Julian Mitchell, Stanley Price and Pierre Marton. More about Marton shortly).
Our hero finds himself up against four Arabs who want to know what’s on that cipher:
* Prime Minister Jena (pronounced “Yay-na” and played by Carl Duering), who’s in England on a hush-hush mission;
*Nejim Beshraavi (Badel), the shipping magnate whose ships may be laid up for good if Jena signs a treaty promising to use English and American tankers;
*Yussef Kasim (Kieron Moore of Crack in the World
fame, among others), whose penchant for then-hip lingo a la
Edd “Kookie” Byrnes on 77 Sunset Strip
belies his ruthlessness;
*And last but far from least, Beshraavi’s
|In any language, nobody can resist Yasmin!|
beautiful, unpredictable lover Yasmin Azir, played by the dazzling, hazel-eyed Loren. She’s sharp, witty, and alluring as all get out in her fabulous Dior wardrobe, including a beaded golden burnoose!
|Kieron Moore reads the Arabesque script: "I talk like Kookie|
and get knocked off how?!"
John Merivale, the character actor who put the "Adrian Messenger" in The List of Adrian Messenger
is memorable as Sloane, Beshraavi’s put-upon henchman, who gets a memorably tense opening scene in a doctor’s office with hapless Dr. Ragheed (George Coulouris of Citizen Kane; Murder on the Orient Express; Papillon)
and is treated as a combination lackey and punching bag for the rest of the film. I almost—only almost—felt sorry for the guy. Anyway, some of David’s new associates have no qualms about stooping to murder, and soon the chase is on, with suspenseful scenes at the Hyde Park Zoo, Ascot, and a construction site. Our man David is subjected to truth serum and knockouts, and I don’t just mean the lovely Loren: “Everytime I listen to you, someone either hits me over the head or tries to vaccinate me.” Poor David doesn’t know where to turn, especially since he can never be sure whether he can trust the mercurial Yasmin.
The usual ever-so-slightly wooden note in Gregory Peck’s delivery is oddly effective as he tries to loosen up and deliver witticisms in the breezy style of Cary Grant, Donen’s business partner and original choice to play David Pollack. (Rumor has it Grant and Loren were romantically linked once upon a time; wonder if that’s why Grant didn’t take the role?) It helps that those witticisms were written by none other than
|If the shoe fits, Beshraavi will have Yasmin wear it!|
alumnus Peter Stone under the nom de plume
Pierre Marton. Peck may not be Mr. Glib, but he’s so inherently likable (he won his Oscar for playing Atticus Finch, after all. Ask Vinnie, my husband, to do his Gregory-Peck-Impersonating-Cary-Grant impersonation sometime!) and seems so delighted to get an opportunity to deliver bon mots after all his serious roles that he’s downright endearing, like a child trying out new words for the first time. Besides, the bewitching Loren can make any guy look suave and sexy. Badel, looking like a swarthy, polished Peter Sellers wearing cool shades, virtually steals his scenes as the suave-bordering-on-unctuous villain with a foot fetish
. Shoe lovers will swoon over the scene with Badel outfitting Loren with a roomful of fancy footwear and a comically/suggestively long shoehorn
|Giddy-up, giddy-up, let's go! Let's vanquish a foe!|
Speaking of things of beauty, Christopher Challis’s dazzling, inventive cinematography won him a BAFTA award (the British equivalent of the Oscars), and Christian Dior got a BAFTA nomination for Loren’s elegant costumes. The only thing that disappoints me about Arabesque
is that director/producer Donen didn’t seem to like this sparkling, twist-filled adventure as much as our family and so many other movie lovers do. Specifically, he felt the script needed work. In Stephen M. Silverman’s book about Donen’s films, Dancing on the Ceiling,
Donen is quoted as saying about Arabesque,
“We have to make it so interesting visually that no one will think about it.” Boy, did they ever! In an article about Arabesque on the TCM Web site,
Stone had said that Donen “shot it better than he ever shot any picture. Everything was shot as though it were a reflection in a Rolls-Royce headlamp.” I don’t think Donen gave himself or the movie enough credit, though. If you ask me, Arabesque
is a perfect example of one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best-known quotes: “Some films are slices of life; mine are slices of cake.”
Now that Arabesque
is finally available on DVD (
my own copy is part of Universal’s Gregory Peck Film Collection,
a seven-disc DVD set that Vin bought me for Christmas 2011), I wish someone would get Donen and Loren together to do the kind of entertaining, informative commentary Donen did with the late Stone for Criterion’s special-edition Charade
DVD, while they’re both still alive and well enough to swap stories, or perhaps even put out a whole new deluxe edition of the film!
|Our heroes saddle up for action! Nice horsies! |
|At Ascot, that's the ticket - to frame our man David Pollock for murder!|
|Reflections in two sexy spies! (Great F/X work!)|
|Odd, I don’t usually get hieroglyphics in my
|Double-cross Beshraavi, and you’re in for a date
with the falcon—|
and we don’t mean George Sanders!
|Now that's what I call breakfast in bed!|
I saw Arabesque a couple of years ago and LOVED it, though it was slightly too sensuous for me at points. It was a grand introduction to Ms. Loren and very pleasant reminder of Charade. (Which is quite possibly my favorite movie ever.)ReplyDelete
Of course, I DID spend most of the film drooling over Dior's gorgeous outfits and the SHOES! Really, the shoes make the movie. ;)
Emm, once again you prove that you're a gal of superb taste and breeding! :-) Stanley Donen and Peter Stone were such a terrific director/writer team. Whether Stone called himself by his real name or "Pierre Marton," he sure knew how to write a witty, entertaining script; CHARADE and ARABESQUE are wonderful examples of his work. I first saw ARABESQUE on TV when I was a little girl growing up in the Bronx. I loved it for the action, romance and pretty clothes, but the sexual innuendo and bad guy Alan Badel's kinky foot fetish sailed right over my curly little head. It wasn't until my late teens that I realized there was more to all those snazzy shoes than Beshraavi just trying to impress Yasmin with his good taste in footwear! :-) As always, Emm, I'm happy you dropped by TotED; come visit anytime!ReplyDelete
This is one I haven't seen, Dorian. I would at least like to get a look at the wardrobe! I can't think of an example at the moment, but like you, I was amazed when I grew up and watched movies again that I had loved as a child, finding all kinds of things (mostly sexual) that of course had no meaning for me pre-adulthood!ReplyDelete
Very nice post, and I LOVE the title!
Becky, many thanks for your compliments on my ARABESQUE post and the title; glad you got a kick out of it! If you get an opportunity to see the ARABESQUE DVD (sometimes it turns up on TCM or AMC, too), I'd love to hear your opinion of it. I'm tickled to see we're on the same page as far as discovering as grownups how racy some of our favorite girlhood films really were! :-) I've found some photos from ARABESQUE on Google, as well as a Sophia Loren fan Web site. Check it out: http://www.lorenarchives.com/film_1966_arabesque.html Thanks again for dropping by and sharing the ARABESQUE-oriented fun! :-)ReplyDelete
Until recently I was never able to stick with "Arabesque" from start to finish. Then I found out that Cary Grant had been the original choice for the lead and...this is possibly odd or funny or both...the next time "Arabesque" aired on TCM I watched it - with Cary Grant in mind. This time I was able to appreciate it more. I'm pretty sure you must be right that Grant wouldn't team with Loren again because of their earlier romance - I've heard that it ended badly.ReplyDelete
Donen's inspirations for "Charade" and "Arabesque" had to be "To Catch a Thief" and "North by Northwest" - two of Hitchcock's great hits of the '50s & both filled with high glamour and thrills. "NxNW" is supposed to have influenced the early Bond films & Grant was apparently an inspiration as well as the first choice for Bond...
Really enjoyed your post on "Arabesque," Dorian, and I agree - I wish someone would get Loren and Donen together for commentary - and/or an interview on TCM. Great work!
Eve, thanks so much -- I'm delighted that you enjoyed my ARABESQUE post as much as I enjoyed your in-depth discussion of the film! I'm with you about the "high glamour and thrills" of ARABESQUE and CHARADE most certainly saluting Hitchcock's TO CATCH A THIEF and NORTH BY NORTHWEST (BTW, I blogged about the latter in January, if you want to check it out sometime :-)) Indeed, I've always felt that in a good way, NxNW was the granddaddy of the James Bond films, with Cary Grant surely inspiring Sean Connery's portrayal of super-cool, super-suave 007. Thanks again!ReplyDelete
Marvelous review, Dorian, of an entertaining lark! I'm a fan of this one, CHARADE, and MIRAGE. And for those that think movies like these were easy to make in the 1960s, just check out CAPRICE...which is OK, but lacks the sparkle of the other three despite the presence of Doris Day and Rod Taylor.ReplyDelete
Glad you enjoyed my ARABESQUE post, Rick -- thanks! I agree that making romantic comedy-thrillers isn't always as easy and breezy as it looks (look at the folks who've tried it lately). When filmmakers get it right, you get delights like ARABESQUE, CHARADE, and MIRAGE (I'll be writing about MIRAGE in the not-too-distant future; stay tuned!), but it's easy for such a film to collapse into leaden bon mots and cliched characters frantically scrambling for no apparent reason than to fill up screen time, as was the case with CAPRICE and Joseph Losey's film version of MODESTY BLAISE, in my own humble opinion. Of course, every film has someone who loves it, so if you or anyone here adores MODESTY BLAISE or other so-so comedy-thrillers, let us respectfully agree to disagree! :-) Thanks for your feedback, Rick!ReplyDelete
As much as I admire Gregory Peck as an actor, ARABESQUE turns out to be one of those rare moments when he should've stayed at home. Whereas Peck is in fine form strolling across a RAF airfield, or working a courtroom full of Southern crackers, he is not the type of actor I'd automatically pick to do the Cary Grant/William Powell sort of light-hearted, fast-paced adventure film (or, putting it another way, imagine Peck instead of Grant in TO CATCH A THIEF, or NOTORIOUS, or FATHER GOOSE). Donen tried hard, but ARABESQUE is, for me, steak without the sizzle.ReplyDelete
The look of the film certainly can't be faulted (although I missed spotting the shoes, alas). The presence of Sophia Loren can't help but up the ante in regards to the movie's attractions, and she could probably turn laying railroad ties while wearing a burlap sack into a scene of intense glamor. Time has been extraordinarily gentle with her and, under Donen's hands back then, her appearance made her worthy of a place within the Louvre.
(As for Losey's version of MODESTY BLAISE, let's cut to the chase here. If it wasn't for Dirk Bogarde's over-the-top performance as Gabriel, I wouldn't give the film a second glance. Much. OK, put 'em up. Put 'em uuuuppppp. I'll take you all on.)
Michael, if you were a woman you'd have undoubtedly noticed Sophia Loren's shoes right away! :-) Thanks for weighing in about ARABESQUE! The general consensus here at TotED and overall seems to be that while Gregory Peck was generally a fine actor and all-around nifty individual, his attempt at pinch-hitting for Cary Grant in ARABESQUE was more of a nice try than a home run. Still, Peck seemed to be enjoying this sophisticated Hitchcockian change of pace (the thresher machine scene notwithstanding; I understand Peck had trouble with it due to an old back injury), and his enjoyment contributed to my enjoyment. And yes, I agree that while the movie version of MODESTY BLAISE had its faults, Dirk Bogarde's scene-stealing, flamboyant performance as Gabriel wasn't one of them! :-)ReplyDelete
For the record, Vinnie and I enjoy imagining how we would cast modern-day remakes of our favorite films. For ARABESQUE, our stars of choice would be Will Smith as David, Thandie Newton as Yasmin, and Adrien Brody as Beshraavi. We think this cast could have a lot of fun with this. What's your opinion? We'd like to know! :-)ReplyDelete
Dorian, I certainly hope Adrien Brody comes to appreciate the amount of business (among other things) you've been throwing at him.ReplyDelete
One can easily imagine a website or blogsite wholly devoted to the "dream casting" of films (and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that one exists). For myself, I can't argue too much with the selection of Thandie Newton for the role of Yasmin (although SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE's Freida Pinto also strikes me as a possibility). For the role of Beshraavi, with Ian Richardson (my first choice) unfortunately dead, I'd have to go with Ben Kingsley. And finally, for the role of David Pollock, I'd be happy with either Hart Bochner or Orlando Jones.
Heck, Michael, in for a penny, in for a pound: if for some strange reason Will Smith wasn't available to play David Pollock in a remake of ARABESQUE, I suggest someone who's probably the closest thing to Cary Grant that we have in this day and age: George Clooney! :-) A good age match-up for him as Yasmin: Clooney's fellow Oscar-winner, Penelope Cruz. Team them up with Adrien Brody as Beshraavi and you've got more Oscar gold than THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE! :-) If Brody is too busy, though, after I get over my disappointment, I'd rally by taking either your boy Ben Kingsley or Javier Bardem as Beshraavi. See, I'm flexible! :-)ReplyDelete
Damn! I didn't think of Javier Bardem (so many people . . .). Not a bad choice. And, if Clooney's not available, then how about his nearest analogue: Pierce Brosnan?ReplyDelete
Michael, nice choice of Pierce Brosnan as David; my dear Mom must be smiling down from Heaven at your mention of Brosnan, as he was one of her favorite actors even before his stint as James Bond! By the way, just out of curiosity, what made you consider Orlando Jones as David? Were you thinking of Orlando Bloom of PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN fame, or does Orlando Jones have untapped suaveness with which I'm unfamiliar?ReplyDelete
I have seen Orlando Jones in several films (including EVOLUTION, which I didn't like except for him) and have always enjoyed his screen presence and his range of dialogue delivery. This will raise some eyebrows, but I would pick him to play J'onn J'onzz (no pun intended. To me, Jones just has this enviable ability to project a sense of other-worldliness. Almost like Michael Rennie).ReplyDelete
Dorian, I'm not a MODESTY BLAISE fan, though I must admit I enjoyed the audicity of it when I saw a few clips on TV a few years ago. It's so over the top! But even in her "art film" appearances, I didn't care for Monica Vitti. Now, FATHOM with Raquel Welch...well, that's altogether different!ReplyDelete
Rick, I'm delighted to hear that you, too, are a FATHOM fan! Good, goofy fun all around, with Raquel Welch, Tony Franciosa, and a fine supporting cast clearly having fun! FATHOM is another film I first saw on our ABC-TV affiliate's "4:30 MOVIE" back when I was a kid. Ah, memories! :-)ReplyDelete
Michael, I quite agree that Orlando Jones is always an entertaining screen presence, with more range than he gets credit for. I guess it's because Jones seems to mostly play either comedic roles or character roles that I was briefly confused at your suggestion that Jones could be an effective David Pollock in an ARABESQUE remake (or "reboot," as the film folk seem to call it nowadays). The more I think about it, the more the idea grows on me. That said, the idea of Pierce Brosnan as David is growing on me, too; wouldn't Mother be pleased? :-) We all have great ideas, come to think of it; why aren't we all running Hollywood yet? :-)ReplyDelete
Hi Dorian - yes - this film is a yummy piece of cake. I had completely forgotten that there were horses in it! So clever.ReplyDelete
FlickChick, thanks for your praise of my new-and-improved ARABESQUE post! It's the best kind of yummy cake, too: zero calories and 100& fun! :-)Delete
Fabulous post as always, Dorian. I can't believe I have never seen this movie!! Gregory Peck + Shoe Extravaganza and I haven't seen this? Yipes! Also, I wanted to point out that you always have great photo captions.ReplyDelete
Ruth, many thanks for your enthusiastic comments on ARABESQUE! I agree with you: Gregory Peck and gorgeous shoes are a great combination -- and including the beguiling Sophia Loren in the mix doesn't hurt, either! :-) And thank you most kindly for your kudos of my photo captions; I must admit that's my favorite part of doing my TotED blog posts! :-) Thanks again!Delete
Great post, Dorian! I too had forgotten about the horse chase scene in this, but I do remember the part at Ascot leading up to it. I really love this film, it's right up my street, with its 60s spy vibe and Hitchcockian flair.ReplyDelete
Gregory Peck is at his loosest here, it's true, and really seems to be having fun in the role (especially in the clever nod to North by Northwest, where he's all drunk and wandering around the city at night). My favorite scene though is when Peck is in the bath with Loren while Badel lurks around suspiciously.
Just a stunning-looking and stylish movie, and the ravishing Loren is even more stunning and stylish than the cinematography.
Jeff, I'm delighted to see that you too are a fan of ARABESQUE in general and Gregory Peck's performance in particular! It's always fun to see Peck get a chance to be playful onscreen. The hiding-in-the shower scene always cracks me up; I guess you could call that a much more lighthearted take on Hitchcock's PSYCHO shower scene; much as I love both PSYCHO and ARABESQUE for different reasons, for sheer fun I'll take Sophia and her pink soap over "Mother" and a knife anytime! :-) Thanks for your praise and for joining in the ARABESQUE conversation; drop by anytime!Delete
Looks like a yummy slice of cake indeed.ReplyDelete
I do get such a kick out of your description of characters!
Aw, thanks, Caftan Woman, you're a sweetie! By any alias, Peter Stone was a wonderful writer with a real gift for writing witty, compelling stories with engaging characters. He was the kind of writer all of us writers want to be when we grow up! :-)Delete
First off, I'm just shocked that I've never seen this film since I thought 1) I had seen every Hitchcockesque film available and 2) That I missed another film with Loren and Peck together. This isn't good at all! (This would be great for your upcoming Blogathon.) Perhaps you can remaster it for a third time? I won't tell! Ha Ha
The gorgeous horses running scenes remind me of Hitchcock's Marnie. Except Loren wasn't crazy or trying to shoot them.
What's with all of these films with foot fetishes? Not that I'm judging. (Very Hitchcock scene there) And who could resist Loren's long,bronze legs anyway so I digress.
The way you've described it, this film has everything. Great cinematography, suspense, action, gorgeous costumes with Mancini as a bonus.
I always enjoy the hard work you put in to give us a films backstory and this one didn't disappoint.
Another stellar review! Thanks so much for re-mastering it for my Horseathon.
Page, first off, kudos to you on an awesome blogathon! Your affection for horses shines through, and I'm really enjoying learning more about all these great movies! Also, beaucoup thanks for your kind words about my ARABESQUE Horseathon blog post! I especially appreciate your praise of my backstory; what can I say, I'm a bear for details! :-)Delete
Sure, the third time with ARABESQUE could be the charm, but would we be going to the well too often? :-) Ironically, when Becky and I first began working on our upcoming BEST HITCHCOCK MOVIES (THAT HITCHCOCK NEVER MADE) Blogathon, ARABESQUE was one of the movies we suggested as examples for other folks wanting to participate, though somehow nobody took us up on it. It's not too late, people! :-) Heck, Page, I think your smart and snappy pictorials would be perfect for ARABESQUE or MIRAGE, if you ever wanted to tackle one or both of them one of these days!
I agree that it's much more fun to blog about horse movies when other characters in those movies aren't trying to knock them off a la MARNIE! As for the foot fetish motif, I wonder if young Quentin Tarantino watched ARABESQUE as a youngster and got ideas; it would explain a lot! ;-)
Occasionally ARABESQUE pops up on TCM. If you're truly a die-hard Gregory Peck fan (and why wouldn't you be, barring cash-flow issues? :-)), you might also check out the six-DVD Universal Gregory Peck collection (unless you get it on sale, like Vinnie did for me :-)). It's money and time well-spent.
Thanks again for including me and my new-and-improved ARABESQUE post in your terrific HORSEATHON, my friend!
I am always carried away by your enthusiasm for movies you love, Dorian. This time it's no different even though I am not as big a fan of ARABESQUE as you are. But reading your post I became convinced that I was wrong and you were right. Enthusiasm counts for a lot in my book. :)ReplyDelete
I saw ARABESQUE in the theater many moons ago and remember loving it then. It was only upon later re-watchings that I become unconvinced.
But never mind, you've convinced me I am wrong. :)
Yvette, your response to my ARABESQUE post put a big smile on my face, because more than once I've found myself innocently discussing one of my favorite films and/or TV shows in detail, and the folks in question see it for themselves -- and lo and behold, THEY like it! I'm not doing it deliberately, it just happens like that. I guess enthusiasm can go a long way!Delete
Vinnie says I need to channel that enthusiasm to win the hearts of editors and publishers once my PARANOIA CLUB manuscript is ready to market. Well, here's hoping! Viva enthusiasm -- and great friends like you! :-)
Wow, this sounds marvelous. Sophia used to be my all time sexy European idol. I mean in our house we'd start singing her song and swinging our hips to her version of "Americano" from the Clark Gable movie called Streets of Naples. I think that's what it's called. We also used to say, "Five o'clock in the morning!" with an Italian accent and full on attitude. Cried my eyes out watching Two Women too. Thanks for the run down on this one and I'll keep my eyes out for it.ReplyDelete
Eve, it sounds like you're referring to IT STARTED IN NAPLES, which I've never had the opportunity to see, but my dear mom had always enjoyed it. This is further proof that you have excellent taste in movies, my friend! :-) I love it that you and your family quote movie lines and songs like we do here at Team Bartilucci H.Q.! I confess I've never sat through TWO WOMEN completely because, I confess, I always end up in tears myself. One day I'll steel myself and watch the entire film from start to finish! Thanks so much for joining the conversation on this busy weekend combining Memorial Day and the Horseathon!Delete
Dorian ~ this is a great choice for a blogathon with horses as the focus. I’m searching my memory to figure out why the title sounds so familiar, while the plot is absolutely new. I have seen and enjoyed “Charade,” although the relationship between Grant and Hepburn left me a little incredulous. The pairing of Peck and Loren sounds inspired and the wacky mid-sixties sensibilities make this a film I must see. Although the horse seems to be a secondary part of the plot, I can imagine a Stanley Donen double-feature beginning with “Charade” and followed by “Arabesque” and I’ll be in camp caper heaven. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention.ReplyDelete
whistlinggypsy, in case I've unwittingly neglected to say this to you in previous posts, I like the way you think! CHARADE and ARABESQUE would definitely be a perfect suave, soignee date-night double-feature in my book! Considering both films are written in part or in full by the late great Peter Stone, one of my favorite screenwriters, perhaps that's why it's ringing a bell with you.Delete
The horses may seem like secondary characters at first, but for me, the scenes at Ascot and the exciting horse chase at ARABESQUE's climax add up to rousing entertainment and adventure. Besides, Sophia Loren's lovely white Ascot frock and picture hat, as well as her other fab outfits, are worth seeing, too. Besides, Loren and Gregory Peck have such a wonderfully playful, sexy chemistry together. As you put it so well, ARABESQUE and CHARADE are camp caper heaven!
As for the age difference between Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in CHARADE, here's what I'd said about it back in my 2011 blog post:
"My family and I have always loved the wry way that Grant, then 59, and Hepburn, then 34, kidded the age difference between them. That was more or less Grant's idea, according to (Stanley) Donen and (Peter) Stone on the superb Criterion Collection DVD's delightful, anecdote-rich commentary track. Grant was concerned that it would be unseemly for a man his age to be chasing a beautiful woman so much younger than him, so he convinced the filmmakers to make Hepburn's character the romantic aggressor. Personally, I found this gambit to be quite charming, and it makes sense for Reggie’s trusting, romantic, impulsive personality." Good save on the filmmakers' part! :-)
Thanks for your kind words and for joining the ARABESQUE fun by way of the HORSEATHON, whistlinggypsy! By all means, feel free to join the TotED conversation anytime! :-)
"Arabesque has just about everything a moviegoer could want in a fun escapist movie: spine-tingling suspense; international intrigue; delightful onscreen romantic chemistry between Oscar-winners Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren"ReplyDelete
I don't know what I can add, this statement of yours just about says it all! Like CHARADE it's Hitchcock lite, not that there is anything wrong with that. It's a lot of fun, entertaining and would make a great movie on a cold winters night. I also have to add that Sophia Loren never look more beautiful than she does here. Great review as always!
John, I'm glad to know I've packed in enough details about ARABESQUE to encourage you and others to check out this fun, suspenseful romp! :-) I love your suggestion that it would be a great movie to enjoy on a cold winter's movie night. And wow, is there any movie lover who DOESN'T love the irresistible Sophia Loren, bless her? Many thanks for your enthusiastic praise, John; it's always a treat to have you hang out with us here at TotED!Delete
LOVE your pick of Arabesque! As a huge Gregory Peck fan, I definitely concur this is a wonderful comedy that feature a great horse chase scene. The chemistry between Greg and Sophia is wonderful, I mean that shower scene is such a hoot! I also have the Gregory Peck Film Collection, I've started collecting Peck films ever since I fell under his spell in um, Spellbound. I now have about two dozen of his movies! :DReplyDelete
flixchatter, thanks so much for your enthusiastic comments about my ARABESQUE post for the HORSEATHON! I absolutely agree with you on all counts, especially about the wonderful chemistry between Greg and Sophia. I've enjoyed them in many different films, but teaming them up in ARABESQUE turned out to be an inspired bit of casting!ReplyDelete
If you're interested, since you mentioned SPELLBOUND (one of my own faves), here's a couple of links to my SPELLBOUND review from last year, as well as a post about Greg's 1965 Hitchcockian thriller MIRAGE. (They were part of my Amnesia Trilogy, you see):
Thanks for joining in the ARABESQUE/HORSEATHON conversation! Feel free to drop by TotED and chat with us anytime!
I gotta come clean: I've never warmed to this movie. I like that Peck wanted to do something out of his balliwick but I never really bought into his performance the way I did in Mirage. (I think it might have worked better for me if Cary Grant played the lead.) Maybe this is one of those movies I should watch again sometime; it has been a while since I've seen it.ReplyDelete
Oh, and Dor (I call her this 'cause she said I could) -- using "burnoose" in your title is just going to start me on an FST riff ("All that flimsy burnoose..."). I've kept it in check this time, but you need to take care.
Ivan, I shall state for the record to all you read this that I have officially bestowed upon you the privilege of addressing me as "Dor," because, as my dear old dad used to say, youse is good people! :-)Delete
You're right that Cary Grant, the original choice to play Prof. David Pollock in ARABESQUE, would have been the ideal choice, but after I saw it on our local WPIX station as a kid growing up in NYC, it grew on me (no, not like a fungus! :-)), and I've loved it ever since. Your mileage may vary, and that's OK, too, this being a free country and all! :-) Why not give it one more chance before you give up on it? And hey, I'm not afraid of any flimsy burnooses -- bring 'em on! :-) Always fun to have you joining the TotED banter, Ivan; drop by anytime!
As I mentioned in my review of Crack in the World, Kieron Moore seems genetically bred to stand on a rocky outcropping, with arms akimbo and a jaunty smile on his face. His role here as a beatnik-bespoke assassin makes about as much sense as he did as a leading geologist in Crack in the World.ReplyDelete
He was awesome as all hell in Darby O'Gill and the little people, and he never had a role that stopped him being Pony Sugrue in my head.
Dorian, I was one of the lucky ones who got to see Arabesque in the theatre when it first came out. Loved it, and your article was fun to read. Your captions are always good, and my favorite is "Now that's what I call breakfast in bed!" Amen!ReplyDelete
Becky, I'm delighted to have you drop by and talk ARABESQUE here at TotED; we always enjoy the pleasure of your company! I'm awed to hear that you were among the lucky folks who got to see ARABESQUE in an honest-to-goodness movie theater with the happy moviegoers of 1966, lucky you! Beaucoup thanks for your kind words about my post, dear friend; I'm especially pleased you got a kick out of the "breakfast in bed" gag! :-)Delete