Edward Knoblock's warhorse theatrical piece Kismet, first filmed in 1920, resurfaced as a talkie in 1930. Repeating the role he'd created on stage in 1911, Otis Skinner stars as Hajji, the wily Baghdad beggar who goes from rags to riches to rags again to riches again in the space of 24 hours. Outwitting the evil wazir (Sidney Blackmer), Hajji manages to install himself in the royal palace, romance the wazir's gorgeous "head wife," and arrange the marriage between his own daughter (Loretta Young) and the caliph's son (David Manners). Though well on in years, Skinner conveys much of the effortless charisma which had endeared him to audiences since the turn of the century. Kismet was remade in 1944 with Ronald Colman and Marlene Dietrich; the popular Broadway musical version was brought to the screen in 1955, with Howard Keel as Hajji. The subsequent film versions have kept the 1930 Kismet out of television circulation, denying future generations the pleasure of watching the legendary Otis Skinner in action.
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