The influence of THE ARABIAN NIGHTS or A THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS has permeated our world literature. The presence of Sinbad, Ali Baba, and Aladdin have become ubiquitous, and the figure of Sheherezad has become the very symbol of the master storyteller. This absorbing A&E documentary explores the origins, impact, and mystery of this seminal work of literature.
This period swashbuckler film is based on the adventure novel Benjamin Blake by Edison Marshall, who also wrote The Vikings (1958). When his brother dies, scheming Arthur Blake (George Sanders) kidnaps his own nephew, Benjamin (played as a youth by Roddy McDowall and as an adult by Tyrone Power). Arthur's purpose is to claim his brother's dukedom for himself. Put to work as a stable boy, Benjamin grows up and develops a crush on his own cousin Isabel (Frances Farmer). When Arthur discovers this, he mercilessly beats Benjamin, who runs away and sails to India on a cargo ship to make his fortune. In Polynesia, he and a friend, Caleb (John Carradine), jump ship and set up camp on a tropical island paradise. There, Benjamin and Caleb become rich mining pearls, while Benjamin falls in love with a native girl, Eve (Gene Tierney). Now that he has amassed wealth, however, Benjamin is determined to return to England and get his revenge on Uncle Arthur.
The studio gave Val Lewton small budgets and lurid pre-tested film titles. Lewton, working with rising filmmakers and emphasizing fear of the unseen, turned meager resources into momentous works of psychological terror. Directed by Jacques Tourneur, Cat People is the trailblazing first of Lewton's nine horror classics. Simone Simon portrays a bride who fears an ancient hex will turn her into a deadly panther when she's in passion's grip. Simon returns in The Curse of the Cat People, a sequel in title and a landmark study of a troubled child in fact. Robert Wise makes his directing debut, co-helming a gothic-laced mix of fantasy and fright so astute it was used in college psychology classes.
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