Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Tits & Sand: Captain Sindbad, 1963

OK, let me get this straight – we are about to talk about a Tits & Sand movie shot in Munich, Germany, featuring the guy that played Zorro as Sinbad.
I am sure that it can get weirder than this, but still…

There are three men before whom a woman need have no shame: her husband, her doctor and her magician.

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Captain Sindbad, produced in 1963 by the King Brothers, is a strange affair, an odd assortment of mismatched pieces: we get Guy Williams, that had played Zorro in a Disney-produced series, Pedro Armendariz, a class act that has a lot of fun as the bad guy El Kerim, and German actress and singer Heidi Bruhl, that in the same year represented Germany in the Eurovision Song Contest. TV mainstay Abraham Sofaer rounds up the cast as the dotty magician Galgo, complete with pointy hat and star-spangled coat. Continue reading


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Tits & Sand: The Thief of Bagdad (1940)

Let’s go back to Tits & Sand movies with the mother of them all – the 1940 version of The Thief of Baghdad.
And I know, there were Arabian Adventure movies before, but this one was and is, to me, the definitive item. Once again, this was a movie that was a staple of afternoon reruns on the telly in the ‘90s, and before that I saw it in a small parish cinema, and boy did it make an impression.
So be warned – I’ll wax nostalgic, or maybe not. But this is one of my favorite movies from way back when…

Continue reading


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She Who Must Be Obeyed

The 1965 take on H. Rider Hagard’s She was the most expensive Hammer project to date, and they could pull it off only because, after much searching, MGM agreed to foot the bill.
After all, it was to be a vehicle for Ursula Andres, that three years before had caused quite a splash as the first Bond Girl ever in Dr No.

And so, yesterday being Andress’ birthday and all that, I watched the old movie again, and it was just as much fun as the last time I’d seen it. It’s not exactly a Tits & Sand movie, despite the fact that both ingredients figure prominently in the mix (but in a classy way). Continue reading


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Tits & Sand: Sinbad the Sailor (1947)

sinbad_the_sailor_1947_posterAfter I published the short piece about Tits & Sand yesterday, I realized I have two movies I absolutely need to talk about: one is Alexander Korda’s The Thief of Baghdad, from 1940, and the other is Sinbad the Sailor, directed by Richard Wallace in 1947. Certainly my two favorite “Arabian fantasies” at the movies.
And as I was nursing my usual insomnia, later in the night, I decided to re-watch the latter, and then … well, here I am writing about it.

“O Masters, O Noble Persons, O Brothers, know you that in the time of the Caliph Harun-Al-Rashid, there lived on the golden shore of Persia a man of adventure called Sinbad the Sailor. Strange and wondrous were the tales told of him and his voyages. But who, shall we surmise, gave him his immortality? Who, more than all other sons of Allah, spread glory to the name of Sinbad? Who else, O Brother, but – Sinbad the Sailor! Know me, O Brothers, for the truth of my words, and by the ears of the Prophet, every word I have spoken is truth!”

On with the show… Continue reading


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Tits & Sand: Popeye’s Arabian Nights

When I was a kid1, the Italian national TV, RAI, featured regularly the original 1930s Popeye the Sailor cartoons. For some mysterious reason, the cartoons were not dubbed, and so we kids simply enjoyed the action and the comedy, missing the word-play and jokes. But we got it all the same.
And indeed, when much later the cartoons were finally dubbed, the dubbing job was so lame, we simply decided the originals were better.

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Some of the best originals are now in the public domain, so I put three of the best on a DVD and used them as Christmas-card substitutes for a few kids I know.
bca64gqc8And a friend told me she won’t show Popeye cartoons to her kids, because these cartoons are violent and racist, and also encourage smoking, and her boys would grow up as little fascist pipe-smoking punks should she submit them to such a bad influence.
I was basically treated like one peddling spinach-stuffed neo-Nazi propaganda.
Which sort of made me go “Uh?!” and started a long (and in the end, useless) discussion about historical perspective and the fact that kids, being usually smarter than parents often credit them, usually are quite good at telling make-believe, funny violence from real-world, the-hurting-kind violence.
I don’t know anybody that ever got into a fight because of the nefarious influence of Popeye the Sailor.

But the three cartoons, now… Continue reading


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Tits & Sand (& Pixels): Prince of Persia 2

boxshotI was asked about Prince of Persia 2 a few hours back, just as I was looking for some images to illustrate this post.
I’m not a fan of nostalgia gaming, but indeed there were some interesting gamesd in the past1, and maybe something interesting can be extracted from those memories.

The complete title was Prince of Persia2: The Shadow and the Flame, and it came out in 1993. It worked with both DOS and Windows.
By that time I had a color PC display, and the new game looked like a million dollars on my Zenith . And indeed, superficially, it looked just like that – more eye candy, a refurbished look for a game that was basically the same.

The gist of the game: evil vizier Jaffar, that we thought defeated at the end of the original game, is back. He steals the Princes’ identity, puts a death spell on the Princess, and sits on the throne. But once again the Prince escaped his captors, and he’s on a quest for the tools that will help him defeat the bad guy. Continue reading


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Tits & Sand (& Pixels): Prince of Persia

The 1980s. Videogames.
The Adventures of Robin Hood, Erroll Flynn and Basil Rathbone.
Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Rotoscoping and Max Fleischer.
The Arabian Nights.
Fantasy writing and three writers laughing and reminiscing.
This post had to happen.

prince_of_persia_1989_coverA few days back I mentioned Prince of Persia, cited as a direct influence by a young fantasy writer, who replayed it as documentation for a novel.
That post led to a chat with two friends of mine: Mauro Longo, game designer and writer, and Samuel Marolla, writer, publisher and screenwriter. We laughed a lot, wondering if the young novelist re-played our Prince of Persia.
The one that ran on a single floppy disc, and in which you could save only after the third level.
We all had our special memories of the game – the almost hypnotic state in which repeating the sequence of commands would drop us. The sword duels. The traps.
We laughed a lot, and we remembered the fun we had back then.
Later other friends joined the discussion, pointing out how sophisticated and elegant the game was for its times, how mind-bogglingly beautiful it looked in that time of 8-bit graphics.
But at that point, of course, I had already reinstalled it on my PC, and had a go at it after twenty-five years. Continue reading