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  Arabian Adventure Look: Sky Walker!
Year: 1979
Director: Kevin Connor
Stars: Christopher Lee, Milo O'Shea, Oliver Tobias, Emma Samms, Puneet Sira, Peter Cushing, Capucine, Mickey Rooney, John Wyman, John Ratzenberger, Shane Rimmer, Suzanne Danielle, Elisabeth Welch, Hal Galili, Art Malik, Jacob Witkin, Milton Reid
Genre: Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: Little Majeed (Puneet Sira) climbs down the rocks lying outwith this Arabian city and considers the scene with his pet monkey, deciding that he must go on because he is so lacking food and water that it would be madness to give up now. Once in the hustle and bustle of the area, he looks around for someone to offer him something to drink, notices a water seller, but has no money to pay him. As luck would have it, Khasim (Milo O'Shea) buys a cup for the boy, then as luck wouldn't have it pours it into the dust in front of his dismayed face. But then, when you work for someone as devious as the ruling Caliph (Christopher Lee), should we really be surprised?

Although it wasn't made by British studio Amicus, Arabian Adventure very much was of that school of fantasies they had made in the seventies, and much of that was down to John Dark as producer and Kevin Connor being the director, for it was he who helmed such would-be epics as The Land that Time Forgot and At the Earth's Core. This was to be the last in that vein for him, so you could view it as the end of an era, and with the cast it had including some old reliables and fresh faces it was nice to settle down with and watch what someone had evidently thought would be the perfect answer to the forties classic The Thief of Bagdad. Whether it was or not was a moot point.

Actually, maybe not so moot, as it plainly wasn't: there was a sense of wonder and romance to the inspiration which was sorely lacking here, and Brian Hayles' script was too episodic to really gather much forward momentum; he had been a writer for Doctor Who, and you could envisage this operating quite satisfactorily as a television serial in itself. But it was difficult to truly dislike because all involved obviously had the best intentions at heart, which was to create an entertainment for family audiences which could slot in quite nicely to the lower half of a double bill on a Saturday matinee, and you couldn't criticise them for that: as far as this ambition went, you had to admit they'd succeeded.

On their own terms, if not on the ambition that they were making an Arabian Nights Star Wars which at times this resembled, without with the same blockbuster appeal and nowhere near the obsessive following. The plot was all over the place before it settled into the de rigueur showdown betwixt goodies and baddies, but Connor and his cast managed to hold it together as the evil Caliph makes it clear early on that what he really needs is a magic rose, but the soul he keeps in his screen where he can see whatever he wants - a mirror image of himself, except in white - informs him he's out of luck because only the noble Prince Hasan (Oliver Tobias) can pluck that. Therefore he is captured and forced to search for the artefact, with Khasim as his minder.

So where does Majeed fit into all this? Notable for being one of the few cast members not needing to be slathered in fake tan for that dusky look - though requisite beautiful princess Emma Samms doesn't appear to have bothered - the boy happens to unwittingly do a good deed for a passing, cursed sorceress (Capucine, barely recognisable) whereupon she turns into a sapphire and grants him three wishes. He's not shy about flashing the jewel around, so gets into a spot of bother which it saves him from by flipping him up onto the magic carpet the Prince and Khasim are soaring overhead on. This transport also illustrates how the weather is not kind to its passengers when they fly into a storm, incidentally, and in addition how easy it is to fall off - no wonder no one uses them to get around anymore. Anyway, throw in Mickey Rooney operating mechanical monstrosities and Milton Reid as an ungrateful genie, and you had a colourful but rather more pedestrian than intended fantasia. Music by Ken Thorne.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Kevin Connor  (1937 - )

British director, a former technician, who helmed some cult movies in the seventies such as From Beyond the Grave, Trial By Combat, Motel Hell and four Doug McClure features: The Land that Time Forgot, At the Earth's Core, The People that Time Forgot and Warlords of Atlantis. Despite going on to make other theatrical films like The House Where Evil Dwells and Sunset Grill, he became prolific in television, with episodes of Space: 1999, Remington Steele and Moonlighting to his credit. He also gave us underwater miniseries Goliath Awaits, a Frankenstein adaptation and the unintentional laugh fest Diana: Her True Story.

 
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