Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Tits & Sand Movies: Bagdad (1949)

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bagdadpstrAnd so I went and watched again Bagdad, the 1949 Maureen O’Hara movie that was at the origin of the Tits & Sand movie genre1, at least according to the fiery-headed star.

But despite the risque definition, this is a romantic adventure, featuring exotic locales, a meringue-light plot and the required amount of chases, swordplay and Arabian Nights clichés – despite pretending (without any conviction) to be a historical film.

Anyway – reader, I watched it.
Was it any good?

Let’s start with the plot, and let’s pilfer it from IMDB

A Bedouin princess returns to Bagdad after being educated in England, only to find that her father has been treacherously murdered by the head of the Black Robes, a group of renegades. She is hosted by the Pasha, who is the corrupt representative of the national government. She is also courted by Prince Hassan, who is falsely accused of the murder. The plot revolves around her attempts to bring the killer to justice while being courted by the Pasha.

So, ok, they cast Irish redhead O’Hara as a Bedouin princess. Maybe that’s the reason why the movie is listed as Fantasy on the IMDB.

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Anyway, fresh back home from England, the princess finds out her father’s been killed and her tribe is in dire straits.
Accepting the courtship of the Turkish Pasha (Vincent Price, playing the slithery scumbag with gusto), she gets a part-time job as a singer in Bagdad’s only French restaurant and cabaret.
She catches the eye of – and sets her sights on – dashing and ironic Prince Hassan.
Now, Hassan is played by Swiss-born Paul Christian, aka Paul Hubschmid, that ten years later would become the star of Fritz Lang’s exotic thrillers, Tiger of Bengal and The Indian Tomb.

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A great cast, all things considered.
And there’s Fritz Leiber Sr., playing the old Emir – and any film featuring Fritz Leiber Jr.‘s dad is special to me.

Directed by prolific veteran Charles Lamont and based on a story by Tamara Hovey, the movie does have a lot of logic holes and assorted silliness – but it proceeds at a fast clip, so as long as we sit back and enjoy the ride, we can leave grave questions for later.

Visually, this is a striking feature, with great sets and some wonderful costumes. Indeed, it feels like a lot of the plot twists have the main purpose of showing us Maureen O’Hara, in glorious Technicolor, wearing different gorgeous (and colorful) costumes.

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Also, Maureen O’Hara sings – and all the sources I checked out seem to confirm that it’s her soprano voice we hear on the three songs featured in the movie.
And she also gets to do a little song-and-dance number in odalisque/gypsy costume, for the pleasure (and distraction) of the Turkish cavalry (but they are not really Turkish soldiers, because you see… ah, it’s complicated).

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So, all in all, a fun little movie, featuring some great set-pieces and a generally meaningless story. All the stars are in top form, and if the plot is shaky and predictable, we’re not here for the plot, but for the desert2, the exotic dances, the songs and the swordplay.
And we get plenty of that.


  1. yes, I love the definition, and I’ll be watching and reviewing a few of the genre… ehm, classics, in the next weeks. 
  2. there’s quite a lot of sands, but a certain lack of tits in this Tits & Sand movie – O’Hara’s dresses are gorgeous, but not exactly revealing. 
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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.

2 thoughts on “Tits & Sand Movies: Bagdad (1949)

  1. And, I bet, you enjoied it very much

    Like

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