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Lost in a Harem

Lost in a Harem(1944)

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The working title of this film was Harem Scarem. Production on the film, which originally was to start in March 1943 with Desi Arnaz playing the prince, was postponed for a year because of Costello's battle with rheumatic fever. According to an October 1942 Hollywood Reporter 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 Hollywood Reporter. In early March 1944, Hollywood Reporter 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 Hollywood Reporter 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 March 30, 1944 Hollywood Reporter news item, George Hively replaced Ben Lewis as editor shortly after principal photography began. Another Hollywood Reporter 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 March 1944 Hollywood Reporter 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.