A Thousand and One Nights
Cast & Crew
Alfred E. Green
One thousand years ago, a handsome vagabond named Aladdin croons in the town square while his jive-talking, wise-cracking friend Abdullah picks pockets. When the citizenry discover their valuables missing, they chase the two friends from the square and Aladdin seeks refuge in princess Armina's palanquin. After convincing the princess to drop her veil, Aladdin kisses her while the slaves carry the palanquin onto the palace grounds. As Armina surrenders to Aladdin's charms, her uncle, Prince Hadji, the evil twin of her father, Sultan Kamar Al-Kir, conspires to overthrow his brother with the help of the Grand Wazir, Abu-Hassan. Hadji, who intends to pose as the sultan, promises Hassan the princess' hand in marriage in return for his help in overthrowing and imprisoning his brother. That night, Aladdin sneaks into the palace courtyard to serenade the princess and is captured by the guards. In the dungeon, Aladdin is reunited with Abdullah, who has been apprehended for pickpocketing. When Hassan sentences Aladdin to hang, the princess turns to Novira, her lady-in-waiting, for help. Novira visits the dungeon, and while flattering the captain of the guards, who is pre-occupied playing gin, she steals his keys and slips them to Aladdin, who then escapes with Abdullah.
Pursued by the guards, Aladdin and Abdullah seek refuge in a cave and there meet Kofir, the sorcerer, who consults his magic crystal and warns them of trouble surrounding the princess and her father. Advising Aladdin to seek the power of the magic lamp hidden in the mountain, Kofir directs him and a reluctant Abdullah through a crevice and into a tunnel inhabited by a menacing giant. After securing the lamp, Aladdin runs back to the crevice, but it has been sealed by Kofir, who demands the lamp as the price of their release. As Aladdin ponders his options, a genie arises from the lamp and directs him to rub the lamp and free her. She then proclaims that as long as he possesses the lamp, she will be his eternal slave, although no one else will be able to see her. When Aladdin bids the genie to free them from the mountain, she willingly complies, but when he then wishes for the princess' hand in marriage, she becomes jealous. Deciding to return to the palace and propose, Aladdin orders the genie to transform him into a prince, and he and Abdullah are then magically clothed in sumptuous robes and provided with a royal retinue.
At the palace, the princess, pining for Aladdin, is disinterested in the much-heralded prince. Hadji, now posing as the sultan, eagerly betroths Armina to the wealthy prince, but when Armina rejects Aladdin's overtures as the prince, he reveals his true identity, and she accepts his proposal. Vowing to prevent the marriage, the genie tricks Novira into exchanging the lamp with an elderly merchant, who is really Kofir in disguise. As Armina and Aladdin are about to exchange their vows, Kofir takes possession of the lamp, tranforming Aladdin back into a vagabond. After Hadji decrees that Aladdin is to be hanged, Hassan approaches Armina and offers to free Aladdin in exchange for her promise of marriage and public renunciation of Aladdin. As agreed upon, Armina rejects Aladdin and Hassan frees him.
At the bazaar, Novira finds the embittered Aladdin and tells him about Armina's bargain with Hassan. When Novira recounts giving the lamp to an old peasant, Aladdin and Abdullah realize that they have been tricked by Kofir and hurry back to the cave. There, on the crystal monitor, they trace Kofir to a tavern, but by the time they arrive, they discover that Kofir has died from excitement. Upon learning that the tavern keeper gave the lamp to his son, who traded it to a camel driver, Aladdin and Abdullah hasten to find the driver, who tells them that he bartered the lamp to Ali the tailor. As Aladdin and Abdullah hurry to the market place to find the tailor, Ali rubs the lamp and the genie appears. When Ali wishes for the sultan's robes, the clothes disappear from Hadji, interrupting the wedding ceremony of Hassan and Armina. Noticing that the partially dressed sultan bears no scar on his arm, Armina realizes that Hadji is posing as her father and tells Hassan. When Hassan informs Hadji that the princess knows he is an impostor, Hadji stabs him and then goes to kill the princess. Meanwhile, at the tailor shop, Abdullah distracts Ali and steals the lamp.
When Hadji enters Armina's quarters, he is met by a sword-wielding Aladdin. After vanquishing Hadji in a duel, Aladdin forces him to reveal where the sultan is imprisoned. Hadji then lunges at Aladdin and falls over the staircase to his death. For his heroism, Aladdin is appointed Grand Wazir and embraces Armina. To console the genie, Aladdin gives her the lamp and sets her free, after which she rubs the lamp and wishes for Aladdin's twin. To reward Abdullah for his loyalty, the now-contented genie turns him into a crooner with a voice just like that of Frank Sinatra.
Alfred E. Green
Philip Van Zandt
Harold De Becker
Lawrence W. Butler
Eddie De Lange
Wilfrid H. Pettitt
Wilfrid H. Pettitt
M. W. Stoloff
Frank [a.] Tuttle
Edwin L. Wetzel
Best Art Direction
Best Special Effects
A Thousand And One Nights (1945) - A Thousand and One Nights (1945)
Producer Samuel Bischoff, who had started his production career as an independent, worked for many years at Warner Bros. before moving to Columbia in 1940. Bischoff decided to take a lighthearted approach to A Thousand and One Nights, requesting a screenplay from his trio of writers which was awash in contemporary 1940s jive slang and comedic anachronisms (there are jokes about the new medium of television and crooner Frank Sinatra) and melded vaudeville and old Baghdad into a crazy and colorful revue. A Thousand and One Nights's director Alfred E. Green had started helming silent films in 1916, working in all genres and then transitioning into TV in the mid-fifties. His greatest success would come with The Jolson Story (1946) and earlier he had directed Bette Davis in her Academy Award-winning performance in Dangerous (1935).
Though this was only costume designer Jean Louis' seventh film, he would bring an opulent fairy tale glitz to the production, and with an attractive cast full of a bevy of pin-up-worthy starlets to clothe, his costumes played a large role in selling this Technicolor fantasy. Cinematographer Ray Rennahan was a much-nominated and winning industry veteran; the movie could not have been in better hands. (Composers Saul Chaplin and Eddie de Lange contributed a few songs for Aladdin -- Wilde's singing voice is dubbed by Tom Clark -- though the credits don't acknowledge them.)
The dashing Cornel Wilde as Aladdin was romantically paired with Adele Jergens as the Princess Armina. Jergens, a scrumptious bottle-blonde who started out as a New York showgirl and Rockette, was signed by Columbia in 1944 and later primarily made her career in B-movie crime dramas and comedies. The real leading lady of the movie was the vivacious Evelyn Keyes, best known as Suellen O'Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939) but equally adept in comedic roles. Keyes' turn as the jealous red-haired Genie "Babs" was a perky delight, her comic chops equaled in the movie only by those displayed by the other main player, comedian Phil Silvers as Aladdin's buddy Abdullah. Silvers, a larger-than-life personality and talent whose roots in vaudeville and burlesque led him to success on Broadway and then in Hollywood, played Abdullah with all his characteristic mannerisms and trademarks intact, including his decidedly historically-inaccurate but hilarious horn-rimmed glasses. With brash verve, wall-to-wall wisecracks and an irresistible self-satisfied grin, Silvers' performance in A Thousand and One Nights can easily be seen as the Old Baghdad antecedent of his later TV triumph as Sergeant Bilko.
A Thousand and One Nights is sheer heaven for fans of character actors. Dennis Hoey, playing the Sultan and his evil twin, made his biggest impression in appearances as Inspector Lestraude in several of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies. Grand Wazir Philip Van Zandt was a veteran of over two hundred film appearances, many of them uncredited (even in later years), and was a familiar face in Three Stooges shorts of the late 1940s (including the classic Shemp "Squareheads of the Round Table" from 1948). Gus Schilling, who played Jafar, was a member of Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre group, with roles in Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) and other Welles' productions, as well as many comedy short subjects and features. The acclaimed actor Rex Ingram, who made such a memorable impression as the giant Djinn in The Thief of Bagdad (1940) contributed a similarly impressive appearance in this movie, too, as the Giant in the cave. Richard Hale as Kofir the sorcerer made well over one hundred appearances during his thirty-year screen career, even though it didn't begin until he was over fifty years old; he had been a theater actor since his twenties. Original series Star Trek fans will recognize Ali the Tailor actor John Abbott, and he made over one hundred and fifty other appearances throughout the years. And nobody should forget Nestor Paiva, here as Kahim, who had one of his most memorable roles in Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). John George, in the uncredited role of the Dwarf, worked in Hollywood from 1916 until his last role in 1960, the last of over one hundred.
Columbia populated the distaff side of the supporting cast with a plethora of pulchritude, starting with the gorgeous brunette Dusty Anderson as Novira, one of the Princess' handmaidens. The former model and WW II pin-up girl was under contract to Columbia and after debuting in Cover Girl (1944) had a short career that she gave up when she married director Jean Negulesco in 1950. The equally lovely Erle Gailbraith, in an uncredited role as a handmaiden, had been discovered by Al Jolson when he was hospitalized at the same facility where she was an x-ray technician; Erle later married Jolson and they had a little more than five years together when he died in 1950. (She later married screenwriter Norman Krasna). Actress Shelley Winters also co-starred as a nameless handmaiden, recounting in her biography how skimpy the costumes were and how impossible it was to walk in the pointy harem shoes. Respected Indian dance interpreter Mari Jinishian was brought in to give a realistic touch to the exotic dance routines. Another harem girl, Diana Mumby, had sued Samuel Goldwyn the previous year for distributing to servicemen a photo from her role as a Goldwyn Girl (former G Girl Virginia Cruzon was also in the cast) in Up in Arms (1944), calling her "Samuel Goldwyn's Most Cuddlesome Blonde." Actress Nina Foch also can be spotted behind a veil. Several of the other women hired to provide the requisite eye candy were drawn from the ranks of runway and cheesecake models, and never had real careers as such. Pretty girls weren't a rarity in Hollywood; a movie like A Thousand and One Nights provided the perfect excuse to parade them in front of an appreciative American public.
Columbia's lavish production, including the most elaborate sets built on the lot since Lost Horizon (1939), and outside filming at locations including the unforgettable Vasquez Rocks (where Captain Kirk fought the Gorn in a Star Trek episode) did not go unnoticed by industry peers. At the 1946 Academy Awards the work of Stephen Goosson, Rudolph Sternad and Frank Tuttle received a nomination for Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Color, and Lawrence W. Butler (photographic) and Ray Bomba (sound) shared a nomination in the Best Effects, Special Effects category. Although they would not win for their work on A Thousand and One Nights, all of these men had many nominations both before and after, and their combined expertise set the movie well above many similar adventure titles. An added boost to the movie's prestige was star Cornel Wilde's Best Actor nomination for his role as Fredric Chopin in A Song to Remember (1945), the movie he completed just before A Thousand and One Nights.
Reviewers were generally positive about A Thousand and One Nights, with most of them getting into the spirit of its creative anachronisms and especially enjoying Evelyn Keyes' and Phil Silvers' vibrant contributions to the movie's sense of fun. In fact, the Arabian Nights were rarely groovier than in A Thousand and One Nights.
Producer: Samuel Bischoff
Director: Alfred E. Green
Screenplay: Richard English, Jack Henley, Wilfred H. Petitt
Cinematography: Ray Rennahan
Film Editing: Gene Havlick
Art Direction: Stephen Goosson, Rudolph Sternad
Music: Marlin Skiles
Cast: Cornel Wilde (Aladdin), Evelyn Keyes (The Genie), Phil Silvers (Abdullah), Adele Jergens (Princess Armina), Dusty Anderson (Novira), Dennis Hoey (Sultan Kamar Al-Kir).
by Lisa Mateas
A Thousand And One Nights (1945) - A Thousand and One Nights (1945)
This picture was inspired by the novel A Thousand and One Nights, author unknown, circa 1450. The film opens with the following written prologue: "Many years ago in Baghdad a maiden postponed her execution for a thousand and one nights by telling a Sultan a different story each night. If the old girl were still telling them, the latest would be something like this-" Although a Hollywood Reporter production chart places Kay Dowd in the cast, her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. The CBCS incorrectly lists Murray Leonard as "Ali the Tailor" and Frank Lackteen as "The camel driver." Leonard played the camel driver and John Abbott played Ali. Lackteen's role has not been identified. Hollywood Reporter news items yield the following information about the film's production: For this production, Columbia erected the largest sets since their 1939 production Lost Horizon (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.2576). The set depicting the River of Vapors covered two sound stages. Location shooting was done at El Segundo and Vasquez Rocks in Chatsworth, CA. The picture was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Color Art Direction and Best Special Effects. Actor Rex Ingram also played a giant in the 1940 United Artists film The Thief of Baghdad (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films. 1931-40; F3.5486). For information on other films either based on or inspired by A Thousand and One Nights, see the above entry for Arabian Nights.