Review Date: 7/2/16
Cast: Debra Paget, Jeffrey Hunter, Michael Rennie, Michael Ansara
"How can such a lovely woman be so stubborn?"
"It is only lovely women who can afford to be stubborn."
A fun and lighthearted historical adventure that wastes no time in showing off Debra Paget's considerable charms. Her stunning beauty dominates the screen and she has no shortage of sexy outfits to wear. By day, she is the Egyptian princess Shalimar, but at night she sneaks out of the palace and becomes Taura, the exotic dancer. She does this in order to aid her people in overthrowing a sinister shaman who has usurped her father's throne. The shaman is also in cahoots with a Bedouin general named Rama Khan (Michael Rennie) who wishes to rule the city and make Shalimar his bride. Unfortunately, his plans of conquest are derailed when the young and handsome Prince Haidi of Bagdad (Jeffrey Hunter) shows up. He naturally falls in love with Shalimar, and his increasing rivalry with Rama Khan incites the people to revolt.
The movie is mindless fun and impossible to take seriously. The plot is pure escapist fantasy, the characters are goofy and one-dimensional, and the dialog is hilariously awkward. Shalimar's "disguise" when she's running around as Taura is simply bright red lipstick and a slightly different hair style, which somehow manages to fool everyone. But that doesn't really matter because Debra Paget is astonishingly beautiful in every scene she's in. Her dancing scenes are mesmerizing and the camera takes full advantage of her performance. Jeffrey Hunter makes a dashing hero and Michael Rennie is appropriately antagonistic. The film was obviously made on a lean budget, with laughably awful matte paintings and only a handful of recycled indoor sets. The action scenes are entertaining, but not overly proficient. It's worth noting that Shalimar is actually more deadly with a sword than Haidi is, which I found delightful. She's definitely a force to be reckoned with, and it's a shame that contemporary action films have lost sight of the "warrior princess" persona.