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ARABESQUE


DownGoesFrazier
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Cinematographer Christopher Challis recalled that the film went through several rewrites. With Peck and Loren already contracted to do the film, Challis recalled that Director/Producer Stanley Donen told him "Our only hope is to make it so visually exciting the audience will never have time to work out what the hell is going on".

 

Doomed from the start.

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Challis recalled that Director/Producer Stanley Donen told him "Our only hope is to make it so visually exciting the audience will never have time to work out what the hell is going on".

 

 

Watching Arabesque it always felt like he was trying too hard, visually, as if he were trying to make up for, or distract from, a lack somewhere else in the movie.

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Ben mentioned that this was Donen's follow-up to CHARADE, and that it was also Hitchcockian. I found it to be far inferior. Sophia is ravishing, but doesn't have Audrey's light touch. Peck was not the problem. The plot was difficult to follow.

 

Sorry DGF, but while I DO like Gregory Peck in certain roles, while watching him in this film the last time TCM showed it a few months back, I found myself noticing his inability to deliver the little "throwaway" lines in it with little of the aplomb Cary Grant could and did master in films which are similarly styled such as CHARADE.

 

(...and so yeah, sorry, but I think Peck IS a little bit of the "problem" too with this film)

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I didn't mind ARABESQUE so much. I found it a reasonably pleasant diversion. I have a soft spot for lighthearted, to some extent tongue-in-cheek '60s spy fare. Kid Dabb, I feel like Ben Mankiewicz (or his writers) must have been looking at the same source material as you, because his intro was almost word-for-word what you wrote. This was my second time to see it. I hadn't really noticed how over-the-top all the camera angles and stuff were the first time, but after Mank's introduction, it was hard to miss.

 

If you read reviews and posts on imdb and other places, many people compare the film unfavorably to CHARADE and in particular Gregory Peck's performance unfavorably to Cary Grant's. So many people have done so, in fact, I would almost call it the cliched response to the movie. Honestly, I don't think CHARADE is all that great a movie, either, but it's one I can watch many times just for the charisma of the actors, the locales and the whole '60s vibe. In my opinion, ARABESQUE is a notch below but not dramatically below. It has some of the same charms as CHARADE. I never did get what the significance of the whole translating the hieroglyphics bit was, but I found it relatively easy to turn off my brain and just go with the flow. Peck was maybe a poor fit, but I'm willing to cut him some slack, given all the tremendous performances in his career, that he was willing to try something a little different.

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I didn't mind ARABESQUE so much. I found it a reasonably pleasant diversion. I have a soft spot for lighthearted, to some extent tongue-in-cheek '60s spy fare. Kid Dabb, I feel like Ben Mankiewicz (or his writers) must have been looking at the same source material as you, because his intro was almost word-for-word what you wrote. This was my second time to see it. I hadn't really noticed how over-the-top all the camera angles and stuff were the first time, but after Mank's introduction, it was hard to miss.

 

If you read reviews and posts on imdb and other places, many people compare the film unfavorably to CHARADE and in particular Gregory Peck's performance unfavorably to Cary Grant's. So many people have done so, in fact, I would almost call it the cliched response to the movie. Honestly, I don't think CHARADE is all that great a movie, either, but it's one I can watch many times just for the charisma of the actors, the locales and the whole '60s vibe. In my opinion, ARABESQUE is a notch below but not dramatically below. It has some of the same charms as CHARADE. I never did get what the significance of the whole translating the hieroglyphics bit was, but I found it relatively easy to turn off my brain and just go with the flow. Peck was maybe a poor fit, but I'm willing to cut him some slack, given all the tremendous performances in his career, that he was willing to try something a little different.

The hieroglyphics are a gigantic McGuffin.

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I find ARABESQUE to be diverting spy fare, an engaging enough time waster by which to turn off my brain (pretty easy for me to do that) and just go with the flow,

 

As others have said, with all the visual pyrotechnics of the colour splashing at the viewer and odd camera angles, there is obviously an attempt to distract the viewer from a story line that doesn't make a lot of sense. Sophia, of course, is drop dead gorgeous and a delight to watch. And while I agree with Dargo that Peck's throwaway delivery of one liners seems a tad stilted (and perhaps the actor a little out of his comfort zone), he's still giving it the old college try anyway, and I like him for it.

 

Peck, however, had been more effective in a better thriller made the year before, MIRAGE. That role didn't call for the actor to be light hearted flippant, as it does ,at times, in Arabesque.

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I find ARABESQUE to be diverting spy fare, an engaging enough time waster by which to turn off my brain (pretty easy for me to do that) and just go with the flow,

 

As others have said, with all the visual pyrotechnics of the colour splashing at the viewer and odd camera angles, there is obviously an attempt to distract the viewer from a story line that doesn't make a lot of sense. Sophia, of course, is drop dead gorgeous and a delight to watch. And while I agree with Dargo that Peck's throwaway delivery of one liners seems a tad stilted (and perhaps the actor a little out of his comfort zone), he's still giving it the old college try anyway, and I like him for it.

 

Peck, however, had been more effective in a better thriller made the year before, MIRAGE. That role didn't call for the actor to be light hearted flippant, as it does ,at times, in Arabesque.

I've always been a fan of Peck in his comic roles or moments. In fact, I think his comic persona was the best thing about him.

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Sophia Loren was co-starred with a lot of major Hollwood male "A" listers, and this was her one effort with Gregory Peck. Apparently she was able to make friends with almost all of them (one exception being Alan Ladd). Since Peck has a reputation as having been a nice guy (friends to the very end with Audrey Hepburn), I assume that Sophia and he probably got along pretty well, as well.

 

Sophia, however, is a natural for the kind of light hearted entertainment that Arabesque is, while Peck seems a little less comfortable with this kind of material. Still, he gives a game performance in his entry into the kind of spy thriller that was so popular at that time in the mid '60s, and I rather like him for it.

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Sophia Loren was co-starred with a lot of major Hollwood male "A" listers, and this was her one effort with Gregory Peck. Apparently she was able to make friends with almost all of them (one exception being Alan Ladd). Since Peck has a reputation as having been a nice guy (friends to the very end with Audrey Hepburn), I assume that Sophia and he probably got along pretty well, as well.

 

Sophia, however, is a natural for the kind of light hearted entertainment that Arabesque is, while Peck seems a little less comfortable with this kind of material. Still, he gives a game performance in his entry into the kind of spy thriller that was so popular at that time in the mid '60s, and I rather like him for it.

What red-blooded male would NOT want to make friends with Sophia Loren?

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I always thought this film to be good escapism, and  as good as many of those mid '60's "spy thrillers" usually were back then.  After all,,, they had 007 to compete with, so their falling short was a given.

 

I always thought ALAN BADEL gave a performance of a character you'd expect to see in some PETER SELLERS  spoof.

 

And I always liked that story Peck would tell about how Loren WAS actually nude in that "shower scene" early on in the movie.  WE couldn't see her, but PECK sure did!

 

 

Sepiatone

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Sophia Loren was co-starred with a lot of major Hollwood male "A" listers, and this was her one effort with Gregory Peck. Apparently she was able to make friends with almost all of them (one exception being Alan Ladd). Since Peck has a reputation as having been a nice guy (friends to the very end with Audrey Hepburn), I assume that Sophia and he probably got along pretty well, as well.

 

Sophia, however, is a natural for the kind of light hearted entertainment that Arabesque is, while Peck seems a little less comfortable with this kind of material. Still, he gives a game performance in his entry into the kind of spy thriller that was so popular at that time in the mid '60s, and I rather like him for it.

I often.think it's a shame that one of Sophia's prior Hollywood Co-stars, Cary Grant, was not here with her again. However, the affair they had had earlier probably precluded this. I wonder if Grant was even approached, but ths idea was probably dismissed out of hand.

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I often.think it's a shame that one of Sophia's prior Hollywood Co-stars, Cary Grant, was not here with her again. However, the affair they had had earlier probably precluded this. I wonder if Grant was even approached, but ths idea was probably dismissed out of hand.

 

Keep in mind that Arabesque was released the same year Cary Grant took a character part in his last film because he thought he was no longer appropriate as a romantic leading man. I doubt that Grant would have been interested in this film, as he may well have been a few years earlier.

 

Besides, after being rejected by Sophia, how eager would he have been to work with the lady again, especially since he was now married once again (I think)?

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Keep in mind that Arabesque was released the same year Cary Grant took a character part in his last film because he thought he was no longer appropriate as a romantic leading man. I doubt that Grant would have been interested in this film, as he may well have been a few years earlier.

 

Besides, after being rejected by Sophia, how eager would he have been to work with the lady again, especially since he was now married once again (I think)?

He had had a tough time doing HOUSEBOAT, right after she had rejected him.

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Keep in mind that Arabesque was released the same year Cary Grant took a character part in his last film because he thought he was no longer appropriate as a romantic leading man. I doubt that Grant would have been interested in this film, as he may well have been a few years earlier.

 

Besides, after being rejected by Sophia, how eager would he have been to work with the lady again, especially since he was now married once again (I think)?

I did think about Grant winding down his career at that.time, but could've still been approached. The more compelling reason to not have offered him the role.would have been his history with Loren.

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I did think about Grant winding down his career at that.time, but could've still been approached. The more compelling reason to not have offered him the role.would have been his history with Loren.

If they wanted him that badly, couldn't they have used a female lead other than Loren?

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In the film industry, sometimes, for producers, "work with" is a euphemism for something else. I would certainly like to work with Sophia Loren.

Down, are you a fan of the Hank Ballard and the Midnighters' song, "Work With Me, Annie"?

 

Your name is not really Henry is it? If so I think Etta James immortalized you in her version.

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My first name is actually close to that.

 

So DGF. This reminded me of somethin' I've been meanin' to ask you for some time now...

 

In a rough estimate, since 1968, how many times in your life would you say people have asked you to "open the pod bay doors"?

 

;)

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So DGF. This reminded me of somethin' I've been meanin' to ask you for some time now...

 

In a rough estimate, since 1968, how many times in your life would you say people have asked you to "open the pod bay doors"?

 

;)

I don't have time to respond to this. I've got "work" to do.

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