East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

A Scotsman in the Great Kahn’s Court

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Short and fun, tonight.
In 1938, actor Gary Cooper starred in a movie very loosely based on Marco Polo’s Il Milione.

The movie, The Adventures of Marco Polo, also featured Basil Rathbone as the weasely Ahmed, and a young Lana Turner in a small role.
It was an average adventure movie, with a great poster.


When the movie arrived in Italy, the discrepancies – so to speak – between the movie and the book caused some concerns in the distributors.
Not only the story did not follow Rustichello’s transcript of Polo’s memories, but the tall guy did not act the part at all!
Such concerns were solved by cutting a few shots, re-dubbing the movie, and titling it Uno Scozzese alla Corte del Gran Kan (sic) – A Scotsman in the Great Kahn’s Court.
Problem solved.



Later, when the movie was re-distributed, uncut, as a more straightforward Le Avventure di Marco Polo (you figure that out), the old Scotsman thing remained… thus turning Venetian trader Marco Polo into a Scottish emigrée.


File under “movie magic”.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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