Kismet (1944 film)

Last updated
Kismet
Kismet (1944).jpg
Directed by William Dieterle
Produced by Everett Riskin
Screenplay by John Meehan
Based on Kismet
1911 play
by Edward Knoblock
Starring Ronald Colman
Marlene Dietrich
James Craig
Edward Arnold
Music by Herbert Stothart
Cinematography Charles Rosher
Edited byBen Lewis
Color process Technicolor
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
August 22, 1944
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

Kismet is a 1944 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film in Technicolor starring Ronald Colman, Marlene Dietrich, Joy Page, and Florence Bates. James Craig played the young Caliph of Baghdad, and Edward Arnold was the treacherous Grand Vizier. It was directed by William Dieterle, but was not a success at the box office. Dieterle had directed Dietrich two decades before in the German silent film Man by the Wayside , which was both the first role in which Dietrich was cast competitively and Dieterle's directorial debut.

Contents

The film is based on the play of the same name by Edward Knoblock, which was also the basis for a 1953 musical. The play had been filmed three times before, in 1914, 1920, and again in 1930 by Warner Brothers in an English version directed by John Francis Dillon and in a German-language version directed by William Dieterle that was released in 1931.

Plot

The story takes place "when old Baghdad was new and shiny", in an Arabian Nights atmosphere. Colman plays Hafiz, a middle-aged beggar and magician who parades about as the King of Beggars during the day, and as the Prince of Hassir during the night. As the Prince of Hassir he meets Lady Jamilla (Dietrich), the Queen of the Grand Vizier's harem, who knows he is a poseur but is fascinated by him.

Meanwhile, the young Caliph (James Craig) disguises himself as the "son of the Royal Gardener", and roams the streets of Baghdad to learn about his subjects firsthand, despite the disapproval of his trusted adviser Agha (Harry Davenport). During his sojourns, he meets and falls in love with Marsinah, Hafiz's daughter. Unknowingly on another sojourn, he meets the "Prince of Hassir" and is amused by his magic tricks, specifically the one where Hafiz draws a knife from handkerchiefs.

Determined to make a "world of dreams" for his daughter Marsinah (Page), Hafiz has built high walls around his house, so as to raise her up on fairy tales and the promise she will marry royalty. Marsinah's nurse, Karsha (Bates), growls "Bah!" every time Hafiz gets expansive about the future. She knows Marsinah has fallen in love with a "gardener's son", but keeps it from Hafiz. Marsinah tells her suitor about Hafiz' promise of a "prince who will batter the walls down". The Caliph returns to his palace, planning to propose and marry Marsinah.

The next day, Hafiz witnesses an attempt on the Caliph's life by an agent of the Grand Vizier (Arnold). The Vizier kills the would-be assassin before he can be caught and questioned, as the Caliph suggested, and ever more so, the Caliph suspects him of being behind the plot.

Although he knows the Caliph is unmarried, Hafiz decides the Vizier is good enough for his daughter, for he might be Caliph himself soon. Stealing fancy clothes from the market, Hafiz talks his way into the Vizier's presence as the Prince of Hassir and offers him Marsinah's hand in marriage. The Vizier plies Hafiz with wine and food and shows off his dancing girls. A reluctant Jamilla only agrees to perform when she realizes the guest is her false Prince of Hassir. In a private moment, Hafiz asks Jamilla to leave the Vizier and marry him, and she agrees. While Marsinah will take her place as Queen of the Harem and be the wife of the Grand Vizier. Returning home, Hafiz tells his daughter to prepare for her wedding day; Marsinah is despondent of this, and then resigns herself to her kismet.

Then Hafiz is arrested for theft of those fancy clothes and is brought before the amused Vizier. He is sentenced to have his hands cut off, but before the sentence can be carried out, a messenger ominously summons the Vizier to appear before the Caliph. To ensure his obedience, the Vizier's palace is surrounded by the Caliph's soldiers. Hafiz bargains with the Vizier for his hands and life, and for his daughter, Marsinah, to become the new Queen of the Harem and the wife of the Grand Vizier. This bargain is to be sealed, with Hafiz offering to kill the Caliph by using his magic and shows the Grand Vizier his trick of drawing a knife from handkerchiefs and throws it, expertly, to its mark.

Hafiz, with help of the Grand Vizier's office, is arranged to meet with the Caliph at a public open air audience. The plan is suspected when the Caliph is told by his officers about the source of the petition. This is further complicated when the Caliph's officials at the last moment notify him that Hafiz is none other, the man he has been searching for all along to ask for Marsinah's hand in marriage. Hafiz, unaware that the Caliph is the very same young man whom he showed his knife trick and is the man that his daughter is in love with, wangle's his way closer to the Caliph so that he can do the trick and assassinate the Caliph. The Caliph, knowing full well what to expect, leans out of the way of the thrown knife. In the confusion, the Vizier escapes and orders that Marsinah to be killed. Hafiz, knowing all too well what his failure means, rushes to Marsinah to save her. In the harem, Hafiz and the Grand Vizier fight it out, with the Grand Vizier being killed. At this point the palace guards arrive and arrest Hafiz.

As punishment, the Caliph makes Hafiz a Prince of the desolate and barren region of Hassir. Hafiz, now truly the Prince of Hassir, is ordered out of Baghdad by sunset that evening or else. Prince Hassir, agrees and asks only that the Caliph, when he seeks his daughter as his wife, tear down the walls of his home, thus fulfilling the dreams that he always told his daughter of her kismet.

The Caliph orders his men to tear down the walls of Hafiz's house, and rides in on his white horse; Marsinah with Jamilla by her side, is told that the man she recognizes as the gardener's son is really the Caliph, and the lovers are united. Though Hafiz, now the Prince of Hassir, is exiled from Baghdad for life, he sees his beloved daughter will be wedded to the Caliph, and with Jamilla by his side, they leave Baghdad for Hassir, together, thus fulfilling his kismet too.

Cast

Awards

The film was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Cinematography, Best Music, Best Sound (Douglas Shearer) and Best Art Direction (Cedric Gibbons, Daniel B. Cathcart, Edwin B. Willis, Richard Pefferle). [1] [2]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>The Thief of Bagdad</i> (1924 film) 1924 film by Raoul Walsh

The Thief of Bagdad is a 1924 American silent swashbuckler film directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Douglas Fairbanks, and written by Achmed Abdullah and Lotta Woods. Freely adapted from One Thousand and One Nights, it tells the story of a thief who falls in love with the daughter of the Caliph of Baghdad. In 1996, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Ibrahim of the Ottoman Empire Sultan of the Ottoman Empire

Ibrahim was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1640 until 1648. He was born in İstanbul, the son of Ahmed I by Valide Kösem Sultan, an ethnic Greek originally named Anastasia.

Al-Khayzuran Wife of the Abbasid caliph Al-Mahdi

Al-Khayzuran bint Atta was the wife of the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mahdi and mother of both Caliphs Al-Hadi and Harun al-Rashid. She ruled de facto from 775 to 789 during the reign of her husband and sons and is known for her immense influence on state affairs.

<i>Kismet</i> (musical) 1953 US musical by Charles Lederer and Luther Davis

Kismet is a musical adapted by Charles Lederer and Luther Davis from the 1911 play of the same name by Edward Knoblock, with lyrics and musical adaptation by Robert Wright and George Forrest. The music was mostly adapted from several pieces composed by Alexander Borodin. The story concerns a wily poet who talks his way out of trouble several times; meanwhile, his beautiful daughter meets and falls in love with the young caliph.

Al-Muqtadir 18th Abbasid Caliph

Abu’l-Faḍl Jaʿfar ibn Ahmad al-Muʿtaḍid, better known by his regnal name al-Muqtadir bi-llāh, was the eighteenth Caliph of the Abbasid Caliphate from 908 to 932 CE, with the exception of a brief deposition in favour of al-Qahir in 928.

William Dieterle German/American actor and film director (1893-1972)

William Dieterle was a German-born actor and film director who emigrated to the United States in 1930 to leave a worsening political situation. He worked in Hollywood primarily as a director for much of his career, becoming a United States citizen in 1937. He moved back to Germany in the late 1950s.

"Stranger in Paradise" is a popular song from the musical Kismet (1953), credited to Robert Wright and George Forrest. Like almost all the music in that show, the melody was taken from music composed by Alexander Borodin (1833–1887), in this case, the "Gliding Dance of the Maidens", from the Polovtsian Dances in the opera Prince Igor (1890). The song in the musical is a lovers' duet and describes the transcendent feelings that love brings to their surroundings. Later versions were mostly edited to be sung by male solo artists.

<i>Arabian Nights</i> (miniseries)

Arabian Nights is a two-part 2000 American/British miniseries, adapted by Peter Barnes from Sir Richard Francis Burton's translation of the medieval epic One Thousand and One Nights. Mili Avital and Dougray Scott star as Scheherazade and Shahryar respectively. Produced by Dyson Lovell and directed by Steve Barron, the serial was made by Hallmark Entertainment and originally broadcast over two nights on 30 April and 1 May 2000 on BBC One in the United Kingdom and ABC in the United States.

<i>The Thief of Bagdad</i> (1940 film) 1940 film by Ludwig Berger, Alexander Korda, Michael Powell, William Cameron Menzies, Zoltan Korda, Tim Whelan

The Thief of Bagdad is a 1940 British Technicolor historical fantasy film, produced by Alexander Korda and directed by Michael Powell, Ludwig Berger and Tim Whelan, with additional contributions by William Cameron Menzies and Korda brothers Vincent and Zoltán. The film stars child actor Sabu, Conrad Veidt, John Justin, and June Duprez. It was distributed in the US and the UK by United Artists.

Ja'far ibn Yahya Barmaki, Jafar al-Barmaki (767–803) also called Aba-Fadl, was a Persian vizier of the Abbasid caliph Harun al-Rashid, succeeding his father in that position. He was a member of the influential Barmakid family, formerly Buddhist leaders of the Nava Vihara monastery. Along with the rest of the Barmakids, he was executed in 803 at the orders of Harun al-Rashid.

<i>Waxworks</i> (film) 1924 film by Paul Leni, Leo Birinski

Waxworks is a 1924 German silent anthology film directed by Paul Leni. The film encompasses several genres, including a fantasy adventure, a historical film, and a horror film through its various episodes. Its stories are linked by a plot thread about a writer who accepts a job from a waxworks proprietor to write a series of stories about the exhibits of Caliph of Baghdad, Ivan the Terrible and Jack the Ripper in order to boost business.

<i>Kismet</i> (1930 film) 1930 film

Kismet is a 1930 American pre-Code costume drama film photographed entirely in an early widescreen process using 65mm film that Warner Bros. called Vitascope. The film, now considered lost, was based on Edward Knoblock's play Kismet, and was previously filmed as a silent film in 1920 which also starred Otis Skinner.

<i>Kismet</i> (1955 film) 1955 American musical film

Kismet is a 1955 American musical-comedy film directed by Vincente Minnelli and produced by Arthur Freed. It was filmed in CinemaScope and Eastmancolor and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

<i>The Golden Blade</i> 1953 film by Nathan H. Juran

The Golden Blade is a 1953 American adventure film directed by Nathan Juran and starring Rock Hudson as Harun Al-Rashid and Piper Laurie as Princess Khairuzan. It is set in ancient Bagdad and borrows from the Arabic fairy tales of One Thousand and One Nights as well as the myth of King Arthur and the Sword in the Stone.

Kismet may refer to:

<i>The Thief of Baghdad</i> (1978 film)

The Thief of Baghdad is a 1978 fantasy film directed by Clive Donner and starring Roddy MacDowall and Kabir Bedi. A British and French co-production, the film was released theatrically, except for the United States where it debuted on television.

<i>Man by the Wayside</i> 1923 film

Man by the Wayside is a 1923 German silent drama film directed by William Dieterle and starring Alexander Granach, Emilia Unda and Dieterle.

Shaghab was the mother of the eighteenth Abbasid Caliph al-Muqtadir, and wielded a considerable influence over state affairs during the reign of her son. She was commonly referred to only as Umm al-Muqtadir or al-sayyida.

<i>The Last Night of Scheherazade</i>

The Last Night of Scheherazade is a 1987 Soviet-Syrian children's fantasy film directed by Takhir Sabirov based on One Thousand and One Nights. It is the last film of the trilogy, started with the films New Tales of Scheherazade and And another night of Scheherazade.

Abbasid harem Portion of the Abbasid household

The harem of the caliph of the Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258) in Baghdad was composed of his mother, wives, slave concubines, female relatives and slave servants, occupying a secluded portion of the Abbasid household. This institution played an important social function within the Abbasid court and was the part of court were the women of the court were confined and secluded. The senior woman in rank in the harem was the mother of the Caliph. The Abbasid harem acted as a role model for the harems of other Islamic dynasties, as it was during the Abbasid Caliphate that the harem system was fully enforced in the Muslim world.

References

  1. "The 17th Academy Awards (1945) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-08-14.
  2. "NY Times: Kismet". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times . Baseline & All Movie Guide. 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-10-18. Retrieved 2008-12-19.