Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Kismet (1955)

A sharp-tongued poet (Howard Keel), who somehow made it to adulthood before learning you can’t make money from poetry, is mistaken for a beggar. He goes along with it. A notorious thief mistakes him for the man who put a curse on him that lost him his son, so he cons his way into being paid to release the curse. Things are going great but soon he is arrested by the Great and Mighty Wazir (Mr. French), his daughter (Ann Blyth) falls in love, and coincidences keep us all so very entertained.

Kismet is the forth and best remembered version of the 1911 play of the same name. Stylistically it falls in line with a great many musicals made around that time. Brightly colored, expansive sets, heavily rehearsed period pieces with family friendly stories that also border on the naughty. See Seven Brides, Kiss me Kate, Brigadoon. Grand spectacles, if you’re into that sort of thing.

If you’re vexed by all the honkies in Arabia remember that this is 1955 and suspension of disbelief rules the day. Particularly out of place is the Grand Caliph and teen heartthrob Vic Damone. Why he wasn’t in more films is wondered by nobody. But don’t judge him too harshly. He’s just a teenager in love.

Old friends Monty Woolley (The Man Who Came to Dinner), Jack Elam (Kansas City Confidential and just about every low budget western imaginable), and Jamie Farr make appearances. This is first film I’ve seen directed by the guy who gave Liza her last name.

Not a bad thing if you’re into the genre. I tolerated it well. I expected an “Oh, that’s where that song comes from” moment but there was none. People who whistle show tunes will be more familiar. But for me, AMRU 3.

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