The Adventures of Hajji Baba
The Adventures of Hajji Baba is a 1954 American adventure film directed by Don Weis and starring John Derek and Elaine Stewart. Made in Southern California, it was released on October 1, 1954. In the credits it states that the film is suggested by The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan by James Justinian Morier (3 vols., London, 1824). It was the first CinemaScope film made by Allied Artists Pictures.
|The Adventures of Hajji Baba|
|Directed by||Don Weis|
|Produced by||Walter Wanger|
|Written by||Richard Collins|
|Based on||Hajji Baba|
by James Justinian Morier
|Music by||Dimitri Tiomkin|
|Edited by||William Austin|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
Allied Artists Pictures.
In Ispahan, Persia, a barber named Hajji Baba (John Derek) is leaving his father's shop to find a great fortune. At the same time the Princess Fawzia (Elaine Stewart) is trying to talk her father into giving her in marriage to Nur-El-Din (Paul Picerni) a prince known far and wide. Her father intends for Fawzia to marry a friend and ally, and makes plans to send her to him. But a courier brings word from Nur-El-Din that an escort awaits Fawzia on the outskirts of the city and she escapes the palace disguised as a boy. Hajji encounters the escort-warrior at the rendez-vous spot, is attacked and beats up the escort with his barber's tools. The princess arrives and mistakes Hajji as the escort until he mistakes the emerald ring sent by Nur-El-Din to Fawzia as the prize to be delivered. In her efforts to escape him, her turban becomes unbound and Hajji realizes that the girl herself is the treasure Nur-El-Din awaits. Hajji promises to escort her and they spend the night with the caravan of Osman Aga (Thomas Gomez), who invites them to stay for the dancing girls, among them, the incomparable Ayesha (Rosemarie Bowe). The pair are overtaken by the Caliph's (Donald Randolph) guards sent to bring Fawzia back, but the guards are driven off by an invading army of Turcoman women, a band of fierce and beautiful women who prey on passing merchants.
- John Derek as Hajji Baba
- Elaine Stewart as Princess Fawzia
- Rosemarie Bowe as Ayesha
- Amanda Blake as Banah, The Turkamen Leader
- Paul Picerni as Nur-El-Din
- Donald Randolph as The Caliph
- Thomas Gomez as Osman Aga
- Pat Sheehan as Handmaiden
- Joanne Arnold as Susu
- Pat Lawler as Slave Girl
- Laurette Luez as Meriam
The film is based on The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan by James Justinian Morier published in 1824. It was popular and remained in print for over a century.
In the early 1950s Walter Wanger produced four films with Allied Artists. They were happy with the results and signed a new contract with the producer, the first of which was to be Hajji Baba. It was a return to the type of film Wagner had previously made such as Arabian Nights (1942).
Allied Artists had been shut down for three months but re-opened again with a slate of ten films starting with Hajji Baba. Elaine Stewart and Don Weis were borrowed from MGM. Filming started 12 April 1954. Linda Christian was meant to play a role but dropped out and was replaced by Amanda Blake.
With the creation of CinemaScope, 20th Century Fox wooed cinema owners by agreeing to lease their wide scope lenses to various non Fox studios. The Adventures of Hajji Baba was the first of three CinemaScope films made by Allied Artists Pictures. In addition to supplying the widescreen camera lenses, Fox agreed to finance 50% of the films with Allied Artists receiving the domestic gross of the film and Fox receiving the overseas grosses of the film.
The film is occasionally shown on Turner Classic Movies and FXM. It had a small release on VHS.
It is available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time.
- Matthew Bernstein, Walter Wanger: Hollywood Independent, Minnesota Press, 2000 p445
- electricpulp.com. "HAJJI BABA OF ISPAHAN – Encyclopaedia Iranica". www.iranicaonline.org.
- Jane Greer Feminine Star of 'Big Mike' Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 11 Nov 1952: B6.
- GOLDWYN LEADS IN BID FOR SHOW New York Times 5 Mar 1954: 15.
- HUDSON TO PLAY IRISH ROBIN HOOD New York Times 10 Apr 1954: 10.
- p. 55 Mirisch, Walter I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 10 Apr. 2008
- FOX JOINS ALLIED TO MAKE 2 FILMS New York Times 15 Apr 1954: 35.