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In this Arabian Nights musical, the "king of the beggars" infiltrates high society when his daughter is wooed by a handsome prince.
In old Baghdad, the impoverished Poet and his beloved daughter Marsinah go to the marketplace to sell Poet's rhymes for food. When they separate, Poet finds a good spot for begging but is told by other beggars that his spot is reserved for Hajj. Poet receives alms from Omar, an advisor to the Caliph, who complains that Poet is not Hajj, then increases his donation when Poet asks for more. With his fortunes rising, Poet ponders the wonders of fate when he suddenly is abducted by men who take him to the desert tent of Jawan, an elderly, notorious thief. Poet thinks he will be sold as a slave, but Jawan, who assumes that Poet is Hajj, orders him to reverse the curse Hajj put on him fifteen years earlier. After the curse, Jawan's beloved son was kidnapped and he has been looking for him ever since. Recognizing an opportunity, Poet asks for one hundred gold pieces to reverse the curse, and Jawan agrees. Poet then tells Jawan to go to Baghdad to find his son, and Jawan and his men break camp, leaving Poet with a purse filled with gold. In Baghdad, while Jawan looks for his son, a huge procession takes place to welcome Lalume, favorite wife of the Wazir, back from Ababu. Lalume tells Wazir that the king of Ababu is willing to give him a badly needed loan amounting to ten camels laden with gold, if Wazir arranges for one of his three daughters to be the main wife of the young Caliph. Meanwhile, Caliph, who has been traveling incognito during the yearlong mourning period for his late father, sees Marsinah and is immediately attracted to her. Now Poet, who is dressed in new finery, greets Marsinah and tells her they are rich and he can buy her anything she wants. She is worried that he has stolen the money, but he assures her that he has come by it honestly. After giving her money to shop, Poet buys several attractive female slaves but is arrested by Wazir's guards because his purse carries the insignia of a wealthy family that was robbed. At the same time, Caliph approaches Marsinah in a garden but does not tell her his name, and she thinks he is a gardener. They fall in love and agree to meet in the garden that night. Later, in Wazir's court, Poet is charged as a thief. Lalume, who is observing, is impressed with Poet's looks and gift for words and convinces her husband to let Poet speak. As Poet tells the story of how he obtained the purse of gold, the recently captured Jawan is brought before Wazir and angrily confirms Poet's story. Jawan is shocked to see half of an amulet around Wazir's neck, and when Wazir says that he has had it since childhood, Jawan produces the other half, proclaiming Wazir to be his long-lost son. Wazir is impressed with Poet's powers, but sends Jawan to the dungeon, reasoning that Wazir cannot have a thief for a father. While Wazir is thinking about a curse that Poet has just placed upon him, Caliph briefly enters the court to announce that the period of mourning is over and he will be assuming his royal duties and taking a bride that night. Wazir assumes that Poet's curse has worked and, worried that his plans for the loan from the king of Ababu will be ruined, takes Lalume's advice and offers to return Poet's gold and raise him to the rank of Emir, if he reverses the curse. Poet happily accepts, and when Wazir leaves him alone with Lalume, the two realize they have similar temperaments. She says that her "so-called marriage" to Wazir has made her perpetually bored and she is attracted to Poet's belief in fate. A short time later, trumpets are heard through the city, and Wazir tells Lalume and Poet that Caliph is going to claim his bride. Annoyed that the curse has not yet been reversed, Wazir orders Poet confined to the palace. Poet then orchestrates an elaborate curse reversal ceremony that enables him to sneak out of the palace while Wazir is distracted. Poet goes to the garden and finds Marsinah, who is curious about the lavish procession approaching. Although she wants to wait for her rendezvous, Poet convinces her that his life depends upon their immediately fleeing Baghdad. Poet relates everything that has happened until word spreads through the marketplace that Caliph came to claim his bride but the woman was not there. Overjoyed that his curse reversal ceremony seemed to have worked, Poet gives Marsinah his gold and, dismissing her apprehensions, returns to the palace to become an emir. At the palace, Wazir tells Lalume that he is now is certain Poet has supernatural powers and must be killed because of what he knows, but Lalume convinces him to keep Poet in the palace and use his power. When Poet returns, Wazir tells Lalume to care for him. Once Lalume and Poet are alone, he tells her that he is worried about his daughter and she suggests that he bring her to live in the palace. After sending for Marsinah, Poet enjoys Lalume's company, but is careful to avoid incurring Wazir's jealousy. When Marsinah arrives, she tearfully confesses to her father that she has fallen in love but does not even know her beloved's name. Lalume then has Marsinah dressed in finery and hidden in the harem for her own protection. Unknown to them, while Caliph's men are searching Baghdad for Marsinah, he goes to speak with Wazir, who suggests that he marry the three princesses and take pleasure in the harem. When Caliph sees Marsinah walk into Wazir's harem, Wizar is shocked to discover that Caliph's intended bride is there but happy that she cannot, therefore, marry Caliph. The disappointed Caliph then says that he will take another bride that night. Wazir quickly learns Marsinah's identity and tells her that they will be married, with a certificate dated the previous month. Later that night, despite the beauty of the women presented to him, Caliph accepts none as his bride. When Wazir privately congratulates Poet on bringing Caliph's true love to the protection of the harem, Poet realizes that Caliph is Marsinah's beloved and pretends to do a trick that results in Wazir being held under water in a pool. As Wazir struggles, Poet asks Caliph what sentence would be given to a murderer and torturer who also cost him his bride. Caliph answers "death," after which Poet says the sentence has been carried out then runs away. When the guards retrieve Wazir's body, they find that he is still alive. They capture Poet, who is about to be put to death when Caliph arrives. At that moment, Caliph sees the weeping Marsinah, and Lalume explains everything. Caliph now sentences Wazir to death and tells Poet that he must go into exile. Poet agrees, but asks to take the soon-to-be-widowed Lalume with him. Caliph agrees and happily sentences himself to a life with Marsinah.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||New York premiere: 8 Dec 1955; Los Angeles premiere: 22 Dec 1955|
|Release Date:||1955||Production Date:||
AFI Library; AFI
|Color/B&W:||Color (Eastmancolor)||Distributions Co:||Loew's Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono (Western Electric Sound System), Stereo||Production Co:||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.|
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An Adventurer's Delight
Ed Thomas 2012-08-13
Since being in grade school I have sung the music to this movie. They are classic tunes. Then I finally got to see the actual film when I was an...
I gave up after the first hour on TCM. It's a mixture of an outstanding performance by Ann Blyth with an awful one by the male lead. I like Vic...
W. Temple 2009-10-07
I grew up listening to the movie soundtrack so I know all the words to every song. The movie is just a fun and festive confection by Vincente Minelli the...