The Wizard of Arabia
Imagine the scene; the bosses of a studio are walking through an old storage warehouse when they stumble across the sets and props from an old 1940s Arabian adventure movie. Seduced by the nostalgia of the movies they watched as children and the cost effectiveness of using the old props they wonder whether a new Arabian adventure movie would delight young audiences like it did them. I don't know if that is how "Arabian Adventure" came to be but it is one explanation as to why in 1979 we got this movie which looks like something from the 1940s. If you ignore the various well known names, and there are a surprising few, plus the fact it is in colour everything about the movie from the look, the action, the characters and storyline screams 1940s. All of which might just work for those who grew up on these sorts of movies but for anyone else it is all a bit past it, a bit too cheesy.
Anyway as to the story, well to be frank "Arabian Adventure" is a bit all over the place starting with us meeting young Majeed (Puneet Sira), a street urchin we see enter an Arabian city with his monkey both of who are hungry and thirsty. Initially he doesn't seem important to the story and we are soon in the palace of the Caliph (Christopher Lee) but later on young Majeed turns out to be more important than we realise. As the story plays out we discover that the Caliph is a tyrannical ruler who has his men kill anyone out past curfew and seeks ultimate power by getting his hands on the rose. In order to do so he sends Prince Hasan (Oliver Tobias) on a quest to find the rose and in return Hasan may marry his daughter Princess Zuleira (Emma Samms).
As I said "Arabian Adventure" is very much a product of the 1940s with a storyline which incorporates much of what made up those bygone movies. As such we have the young boy, an evil Caliph, the beautiful Princess and the handsome Prince and we also have an adventure with semi exciting escapades with the Prince being full of daring do and unafraid of a fight. The thing is that whilst all of this is nicely put together on a moderate budget it does feel dated and something which was almost made as a curiosity to see if the era of the Arabian movie could return.
The most surprising and in some ways the most entertaining thing about the movie is the number of well known names and faces who appear. Christopher Lee, Emma Samms, Oliver Tobias and John Ratzenberger all have important roles whilst Peter Cushing, Mickey Rooney, Milo O'Shea and the attractive Capucine show up in cameos. I wouldn't say any of the performances are that good with maybe Christopher Lee doing a reasonable job of playing the evil Caliph whilst Puneet Sira is not too annoying as young Majeed but all these actors have shocking generic and frankly forgettable characters to play with the exception of Mickey Rooney who's character seems to have been inspired by "The Wizard of Oz".
What this all boils down to is that "Arabian Adventure" basically is nothing more than a 70s version of a 1940s sword & sandals movie which is simplified to be even more child friendly. It is dated and frankly quite cheesy but yet strangely entertaining at the same time.