Arabesque

Tagline : Ultra Mod. Ultra Mad. Ultra Mystery.

Runtime : 105 mins

Genre : Thriller Comedy Mystery Action

Vote Rating : 6.2/10

Budget : 4.8 million $ USD

Plot : When a plot against a prominent Middle Eastern politician is uncovered, David Pollock, a professor of ancient hieroglyphics at Oxford University, is recruited to help expose the scheme. Pollock must find information believed to be in hieroglyphic code and must also contend with a mysterious man called Beshraavi. Meanwhile, Beshraavi's lover, Yasmin Azir, seems willing to aid Pollock -- but is she really on his side?

Cast Members

Reviews

Swell! Arabesque is directed by Stanley Donen and collectively adapted by Julian Mitchell, Stanley Price and Pierre Marton from Gordon Cotler's novel The Cypher. It stars Gregory Peck, Sophia Loren, Alan Badel, John Merivale and Harold Kasket. A Panavision/Technicolor production with music by Henry Mancini and cinematography by Christopher Challis. Hieroglyphics expert David Pollock (Peck) is thrust into a world of shifty political intrigue involving a Middle Eastern Prime Minister, a beautiful spy and a sinister rich businessman. There's quite a bit wrong with Arabesque, with white actors made up as Arabs, a scatter-gun plot, weak finale, a barely threatening villain and Peck is no action hero! Yet if you can just run with it, to enjoy being in the company of the stars? Then there's fun to be had here. Part comedy, part thriller mystery, Arabesque zips along at a decent clip and Donen inserts memorable scenes along the way. From a wonderful shower sequence to chase me perils at a Zoo and a building site, there's truly a great will of spirit involved in the production. Donen also at times chooses to shoot the movie through a kaleidoscopic prism, and uses canted angles to accentuate David Pollock's confusion. These are nice touches, as is Mancini's Eastern flavoured musical arrangement. Peck may be no action hero type actor but his sense of fun here, and his all round classy charm, makes it very easy to root for him. Loren looks fabulous, a real sex-bomb pouting away with a glint in her eye. Not all of the Christian Dior costumes suit her character, but Loren, herself seemingly having a great old time of it, comes through the picture with flying colours. Elsewhere the performances are merely adequate, with Badel's villain coming off like a weak Peter Sellers clone! So a mixed bag for sure and the shadow of Donen's wonderful Charade three years earlier looms large at times, but it's an enjoyable enough ride while it lasts. 7/10

Fun little espionage-romance-thriller featuring the wonderful duo of Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren. Gets a bit confusing and still don't quite understand the point of the cipher to begin with, but has some thrilling scenes and a solid finale. Nothing terribly memorable and certainly has shades of Charade (same writer and director) released three years prior, yet still worth checking out. **3.5/5**

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