Genre Guesstimation – Arabesque (1966)


The idea behind this feature (Genre Guesstimation) is for me to watch a bunch of new movies (or ones that I haven’t seen many times) from the chosen monthly GG genre in order to expand my knowledge of movies within that particular genre.

This month’s Genre has been chosen by Michael Eddy and it is Hitchcockian Films.

Hitchcock films by the master himself and the best “Hitchcock films” not directed by Hitchcock.

Please get me your submissions by the 25th of January by sending them to hitchcockianmike@movierob.net

Try to think out of the box! Great choice Mike!

Let’s see if I felt that this movie would be worthy of being in the company of my others favorite movies in the genre of Hitchcockian Films Movies.

“There’s nothing like a little kidnapping now and then to keep the circulation going.” – David Pollack

Number of Times Seen – 1 (16 Jan 2018)

Brief Synopsis – A university professor is hired to translate an ancient hieroglyphic but ends up getting involved in International espionage.

My Take on it – I decided that in order to make my guest choices of the Genre for the Genre Grandeur series more personal (and expand my own personal horizons of these genres), I will take a recommendation from my guest for a film to watch for this Genre Guesstimation series.

This film was Mike’s choice for me to watch.

I had never heard of this film before and was quite intrigued to give a try after reading the synopsis.

They do a great job of building up the plot bit by bit which allows the viewer to absorb it all in.

It does start off pretty slow and some of the early scenes really drag on but that is part of what makes this film work so well.

As we (and the lead played by Gregory Peck) slowly learn what is going on, things get more and more exciting to watch unfold.

When eventually the plot idea is revealed, the story changes gears and becomes a great and thrilling adventure for us to enjoy.

Peck does a great impression of a typical Hitchcock leading man who is usually in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Sophia Loren is a great and beautiful choice as the lead female role who remains mysterious about what she really stands for through most of the film.

The finale is done nearly perfectly and is worth the wait.

Bottom Line – Nice thriller that builds up to a great plot.  The beginning starts off slow and a bit disjointed since the viewer (like the main character) have no idea what is really going on.  As things move along, things become much clearer and eventually once the idea of the whole thing is explained, the thrilling aspects and tension are equally raised and become even more prominent. Peck is fine for the lead and does a very good Hitchcock leading man impression with this one. Loren is a beautiful and mysterious female lead who slowly reveals to us what she truly stands for. Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – The part of David Pollock was originally written for Cary Grant. When Gregory Peck had trouble getting the humor right in a line, he’d smile and tell director Stanley Donen “Remember, I’m no Cary Grant.” (From IMDB)

Genre Grandeur Worthy? – Comes close, especially because the final act is amazing, but the rest of the film’s buildup moves along too slowly.

Rating – Globe Worthy

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7 thoughts on “Genre Guesstimation – Arabesque (1966)

  1. Glad I came through for you Rob. Excited that you enjoyed Arabesque. This is one of my favorite non-Hitchcock Hitchcock type movies. Not sure why Grant passed on this one – he had made another Hitchcockian thriller – CHARADE – a couple of years earlier – also directed by Stanley Donen. And he had made other films with Loren (and they were rumored to have had an affair – wonder if that had anything to do with it). But the year this was made – 1966 – was also the year Grant made his final film and then retired – “Walk Don’t Run” (which was a sort of remake of “The More The Merrier” but set against the Tokyo Olympics rather than the WWII housing shortage in Washington, DC). If he wasn’t offered Arabesque until after Walk,Don’t Run – that would account for it. But I would have much rather he called it a career with Arabesque than the other (which paled by comparison to The More The Merrier and won an Oscar for Charles Coburn in the role that Grant played). The quote from Peck to his director is very funny. Back in the day – an interviewer told Grant, “Everybody would love to be Cary Grant”, to which Grant replied, “So would I”.

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  2. Also – I guess I didn’t have the same problem you did with the slow buildup (especially after the opening scene in the optometrist’s office – and then the title sequence and the slamming Henry Mancini score kicking in). I also was intrigued with the way Donen shot the movie in so many reflective surfaces – I suppose as a way of saying all is not as it seems – and maybe people can have 2 faces – so pay attention. Lastly – one of the credited writers here was Peter Stone – who had also written Charade and one of my other favorite Cary Grant movies – “Father Goose” (for which Stone won an Oscar), which leads me to believe that Stone was brought in to help tailor the screenplay for Grant – and when Cary decided not to make it – and changes were made to the script for Peck – Stone took his name off it – and went with his pseudonym – Pierre Marton.

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