Arabesque (1966)

Based on Ale Gordon’s The Cypher, this movie nearly didn’t have Gregory Peck in it. Cary Grant had just starred in another Hitchcockian film by the same director — Stanley Donen’s Charade — but he retired from the screen.

Dohen wasn’t sure about the film, but the idea of this movie proved to be too good to pass up as he remembered in the book Dancing on the Ceiling: Stanley Donen and His Movies: “[Grant] didn’t want to be in it…It wasn’t a good script and I didn’t want to make it, but Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren, whom I loved, wanted to be in it and the studio implored me to make it, because, they said, ‘It’s ridiculous not to make a film with Peck and Sophia.’ They said it would make money, and they were right.”

To keep himself interested in the film, Donen tried to constantly keep the camera moving, giving this movie a handheld feel. It works really well and keeps things from getting too staid.

Peck plays Professor David Pollock, an American hieroglyphics professor who is hired to uncode a secret message. Once the answer is found, he’s marked for death by an oil magnate and finds himself falling for the evil boss’ gorgeous lover, Yasmin Azir (Loren).

So yes, the director of Singin’ in the Rain (and Kiss Them for MeFunny FaceBedazzled and, oh yes, Saturn 3) ended up making a Eurospy.

The Kino Lorber blu ray of this movie comes complete with commentary by Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson, a feature on Henry Mancini, three different trailers, five TV commercials and an image gallery.

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