Sumurun (a.k.a. One Arabian Night) is a 1920 German silent film directed by Ernst Lubitsch based on a pantomime by Friedrich Freksa.

Film poster
Directed byErnst Lubitsch
Produced byPaul Davidson
Written by
Starringsee below
Distributed byUFA
First National Pictures (U.S. release)
Release date
  • September 1, 1920 (1920-09-01)
Running time
103 minutes
LanguageSilent (German intertitles)
English intertitles (U.S. release)


A company of travelling performers arrive at a fictional oriental city. It includes the beautiful dancer Janaia, the hunchback clown Yeggar who is lovesick for Janaia and the Old Lady who loves Yeggar. The slave trader Achmed wants to sell Janaia to the Sheik for his harem. At the Palace, the Sheik finds out that his favourite, Sumurun, is in love with Nur al Din, the handsome clothes merchant. He wants to condemn her to death but his son obtains her pardon. After seeing Janaia dancing, the Sheik is keen to buy her. Yeggar is desperate and takes a magic pill which make him look dead. His body is hidden in a chest. The women from the harem come to Nur al Din's shop and hide him in a chest so that he can be brought into the Palace. The chest containing Yeggar's body is also brought to the Palace and the Old Lady manages to revive him. The Sheik finds Janaia making love to his son and kills both of them. He then finds Sumurun making love to Nur al Din and wants to kill them but he is stabbed in the back by Yegger.[1]



The filming of Sumurun began at the Ufa studios Union Berlin Tempelhof Studios on 13 March 1920. The monumental sets were realised by Kurt Richter and Ernő Metzner. The costumes were designed by Ali Hubert. This is the last film in which Ernst Lubitsch was starring. Sumurun was classified by the Film Censor's Office as not suitable for minors. The première took place on 1 September 1920 in the Ufa-Palast am Zoo in Berlin.


In Germany, Sumurun was highly praised by contemporary critics and was described as "a cinematic journey into a universe of emotions and passions of great intensity and utter perfection, with a remarkable Ernst Lubitsch in one of the main roles."[2]

In America, The New York Times wrote that One Arabian Night (the title under which Sumurun was released) gave added evidence that Ernst Lubitsch "is the superior of most directors anywhere, and that Pola Negri, a Polish-German actress, is one of the few real players of the screen who can make a character live and be something other than an actress playing a part." It concluded that, despite some shortcomings, it remained one of the year's best pictures.[3]

DVD releases

The film was released on DVD in the U.S. by Kino Lorber as part of the box set "Lubitsch in Berlin" in 2007 with English intertitles. It was also released in the UK by Eureka's Masters of Cinema series as part of the box set "Lubitsch in Berlin: Fairy-Tales, Melodramas, and Sex Comedies" in 2010 with German intertitles and English subtitles.


  1. Review, synopsis and link to watch the film: "A cinema history". Retrieved 8 February 2015.
  2. Klaus Brüne (Hrsg.): Lexikon des Internationalen Films. Band 7. Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1990, S. 3658.
  3. "New-York Times, October 3, 1921". Retrieved 17 November 2014.
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