Arabesque – 1966 – English
Synopsis: David, a famous Egyptologist, is involved in the power struggle between three sides in a Middle Eastern country. The goal is to decipher a hieroglyphic inscription that everyone is looking for.
David is hired to translate it, but he knows from the first moment that his life will be constantly in danger. But thirty thousand dollars, his loyalty to the Prime Minister and, above all, the beautiful Jazmine, forces him to play along until the end.
Review: If I had the impossible task of naming one film as “My Favorite Most Enjoyable Movie” this and it’s bookend, “Charade,” would be it.
It is Stanley Donen’s near perfect blend of Alfred Hitchcock meets James Bond. Donen made two simply wonderful films in the Hitchcock mold. The first was Charade in 1963 with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. Arabesque is the second. They make a marvelous bookend set.
Both films are light, breezy and loaded with wit and humorous dialog. Both feature classic Henry Mancini scores, stylish female ward-robing by the likes of Givenchy and Christian Dior and both feature memorable titles by 007’s legendary title master, Maurice Binder.
But it’s Arabesque’s wildly inventive cinematography which sets it apart from virtually every other action film. The cinematography is pure art school. It’s amazingly inventive use of reflection and shot within a shot camera work is what first interested me in the art of cinematography as a teenager. The cinematography in Arabesque fascinates me and entertains me no end to this day.
Gregory Peck‘s square yet hip college professor plays perfectly with Sophia Loren’s chic spy – and Sophia was never more flat-out stunning. Wow! Check out Arabesque. It’s two hours of great fun.