Arabesque (Universal 1966, Gregory Peck, Sophia Loren)


Solid espionage caper Arabesque has David Pollock (Gregory Peck), an American hieroglyphics professor visiting Oxford, agreeing to decipher a secret message — the contents of which are wanted by spies, oil sheiks, and Middle Eastern leaders.

While trying to avoid any number of pursuers, Pollock is aided by Yasmin Azir (Sophia Loren), the sensuous mistress of politically ambitious oil tycoon Beshraavi (Badel).

Their escapades are replete with wild chases, killings, and horrible assassinations. Donen repeated CHARADE in the making of this film, rightly assuming that film’s success deserved another attempt. Loren’s glamorous wardrobe is by Dior and included some 50 pairs of shoes for her character —a 50,000 pound costuming expense which is explained away by her lover’s shoe fetish!

It’s all very mindless, absurdly complex, hopelessly hip in that 1960s sort of way, and an agreeable way to pass the time.

Cinematographer Christopher Challis won an award from the British Film Academy for Best Color Photography.

USA / Universal / 107 minutes / 1966

Writers: Julian Mitchell, Stanley Price, Pierre Martin (based on the novel The Cipher by Gordon Cotler) / Music: Henry Mancini / Cinematography: Christopher Challis / Producer and Director: Stanley Donen

cast: Gregory Peck (David Pollock), Sophia Loren (Yasmin Azir), Alan Badel (Beshraavi), Kieron Moore (Yussef Kassim), Carl Duering (Hassan Jena), John Merivale (Sloane), Duncan Lamont (Webster), George Coulouris (Ragheeb), Ernest Clark (Beauchamp), Harold Kasket (Mohammed Lufti), Gordon Griffin (Fanshaw)