Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Maureen O’Hara’s Birthday

Yeah, I know, I said I’d take the weekend off and not post, but then, stuff keeps happening.
And today it’s the birthday of beautiful, spirited and talented Maureen O’Hara, Miss Technicolor herself, and one of the part-time muses of Karavansara as she is the one that coined the term Tits & Sand.

So tonight I think I’ll watch Sinbad the Sailor one more time.


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Morocco (1930)

Today is Joseph von Sternberg’s birthday, so it feels right that I spent one hour and a half last night rewatching his Morocco, an exotic melodrama featuring Marlene Dietrich, Gary Cooper and Adolphe Menjou.
The film was shot in 1930 and caused quite a stir, for a number of reasons.
While not my favorite Dietrich/von Sternberg collaboration, it’s still worth a look.
And despite the desert location, this is probably not a Tits & Sand movie, but… who knows?

The plot: cynical but maybe not so cynical cabaret entertainer falls in love with cheeky American legionnaire and refuses the advances of a more settled, wealthy gentleman. Passions flare, tragedy ensues.

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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…

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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