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Movie Reviews

DVD Review: “Kismet”

(MGM. 1955. 1 Disc. Not Rated. 113 minutes. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Vincente Minnelli.) Howard Keel, Ann Blyth, Dolores Gray, Sebastian Cabot, Vic Damone, Monty Woolley, Mike Mazurki. Music by Alexander Borodin, adapted by Robert Wright and George Forrest.


DVD debut for the so-so film version of Tony-winning Broadway musical, with Keel taking the Alfred Drake part. Filmed in the days when Bagdad was little more than an exotic destination to Americans, Keel’s a poet-beggar living by his wits and not much else, with a daughter, Marsinah (Blyth). Plot machinations have them crossing paths with the evil Wazir (Cabot), his sultry wife (Gray), and the Caliph (Damone), who falls in love with Marsinah. Lavish costumes, opulent sets, and Borodin’s lush music evoke an Arabian night’s dream, but the movie as a whole doesn’t jell. As for the cast, Keel works hard, and Gray’s an effortless temptress; Blyth sings ably, but she’s too old to be Keel’s daughter (she was 27 to his 36). I wouldn’t have wanted to be the guy writing the ad line, “And Vic Damone as the Caliph!” Viewing this, I found myself wishing I were watching MGM stalwart Keel in Show Boat, or Calamity Jane, or Kiss Me, Kate…all are better. Extras include vintage shorts, cartoons, and 2 excerpts from The MGM Parade TV series. Available in the Warner Home Video 9-musical box set “Classic Musicals From The Dream Factory, Volume 3.”