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Gregory Peck, Sophia Loren
Directed by Stanley Donen
Originally released 1966
Arabesque is one of my favorite movies. I had been impatient for this Stanley Donen political thriller on DVD. It is a good thing I have a man-sized TV as the DVD features the small widescreen version that makes watching this thriller on a smaller screen a chore.
Gregory Peck plays Egyptologist David Pollock. He unwillingly gets mixed up in Arab politics when he is enrolled by both Prime Minister Hassan Jenna and multimillionaire Beshraavi in a complex overthrow plot that includes a hieroglyphic message, microfilms, many mysterious people, and the lovely Yasmin (Sophia Loren).
Gregory Peck was the first pick to play James Bond. Arabesque shows how perfect he would have been for playing the part straight had he accepted. Peck’s Pollock is a great mix of class, quick thinking, and wit.
Arabesque is an exquisitely written thriller with many twists and turns. The dialogue is superb and very tongue-in-cheek comical without taking any of the tension away. There are many great action and comic scenes in this movie. A favorite is early on when Peck and Loren have to play footsies in the shower.
A very comic scene is when Peck decides to be a bullfighter. You have to admire Donen’s talent for balancing political intrigue, a femme fatale, and the odd comic moment.
The theme music by Henry Mancini, one of his lesser known compositions, really adds to the energy. Arabesque is also a great film visually. Stanley Donen really shows his skills for interesting shots that do not take anything away from the movie. A great example of that is the chase scene in the zoo.