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The Magic Carpet (1951)
Topic Started: Apr 7 2017, 05:49 AM (134 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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The Magic Carpet (1951) Dir. Lew Landers
84 min. / Cinecolor / 1.37:1

The Caliph and his Queen are overthrown and murdered by the evil Ali and his just as rotten Vizier, but they manage to send their infant son to safety on the family's prize possession, a flying carpet. Years later, as a young man, Ramoth, the true heir - still not knowing his real heritage - fights Ali as the Scarlet Falcon, a colorfully dressed Zorro type. Ramoth has two aides, his pal Razi and Razi's sister Lida, and the whole thing is complicated by Ali's sister Narah, who supports her brother, smooches the Vizier to keep him in her corner, yet lusts after the Scarlet Falcon. And the reason, in case you're wondering, why I've gone in to such depth on all these people is that just WAIT'LL you hear who plays whom in this, the most ludicrous and ludicrously-cast film I've seen in many a moon.

First up, we have John Agar as the heroic Ramoth, clad all in silken pink robes(!) as the Scarlet Falcon, so that only his doughy, cherubic face is showing - he looks like a transvestite Bob's Big Boy.

Next is George Tobias as his Arabian sidekick(!!) and Patricia Medina as George's feisty sister, and Miss Medina is the only person who looks as though she actually belongs in the movie. Tobias may bow toward Mecca and talk of Allah, but he always looks as though he should be heading for a bar in Brooklyn.

Gregory Gaye, whom we've all just enjoyed in Commando Cody - Sky Marshal of the Universe, is the evil usurper Ali; his thick Russian accent is unexplained, as is the fact that his sister, Lucille Ball, doesn't have one, and... um... wait! Did we just say that LUCILLE BALL plays GREGORY GAYE'S sister - let alone an ARAB?

Say, have we mentioned that The Flying Carpet is a Sam Katzman production? As such, it deserves a more hallowed place in his canon - it's the The Giant Claw of desert movies.

Lucy (whose TV show debuted the same week this film opened) looks glum and distracted throughout the picture; she appears to be waiting in every scene for the director to yell "Cut!" so she can lift up her veil and smoke a Philip Morris.

Finally, we get to the Vizier, played by Raymond Burr, who handles that villainous glare of his with his usual aplomb, but there's something simply ingrainedly upsetting with watching Lucy Ricardo suck face with Perry Mason. There just IS.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Mr. Agar, explaining how he got to camp: "I came on this carpet. It flies through the air!"
Mr. Tobias: "Of course it flies through the air. So does a dodo bird."

The flying carpet itself looks great - when it's not in the air. In the air, it turns into a platform on wires, but then, you've seen the Superman serials, and you know Mr. Katzman's great skill in special movie flying effects.

Not a good movie, but a frightfully entertaining one, for all the wrong reasons. I found it on a "Lucille Ball - First Lady of Comedy" set from our friends at Mill Creek, with three other films, Miss Grant Takes Richmond, The Fuller Brush Girl, and Her Husband's Affairs.

"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Jerry Blake
Balcony Gang, Foist Class
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Supposedly, Harry Cohn made Ball do this picture as a "punishment;" she owed Columbia one more film on her contract, and Cohn knew that she was not only leaving the studio but was planning to set up a (aarrgh! gasp! groan!) TELEVISION studio, so he decided to exact a little revenge by making her do a Katzman picture on her way out of the door. That would certainly explain the glumness you mention.
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