Arabesque (1966)

Stanley Donen directs Gregory Peck, Sofia Loren and Alan Badel in this romantic spy caper where a stuffy professor and a sexy double agent find themselves chasing a hieroglyphic cypher that everyone wants cracked.

Les, my beloved father-in-law, will let you know if he doesn’t like a film. Repeatedly. While you are trying to watch it. That was the case here, over Christmas, as he sat in our armchair. Whether his continual moaning made me lean into this rather contrarily I’ll never know but I found many light pleasures in the pop art nonsense plotting, the London setting and Loren in a series of fabulous Dior costumes. It isn’t as good as Charade -both stars are a downgrade, the support lack sparkle – but as rehashes of a previous success go this had a jaunty deftness that transcended being called “The worst film I’ve ever seen” repeatedly. I’d watch it again and having endured a few genuine duff swinging Bond spoofs recently I can attest without prejudice this has aged far better. At the very least the set pieces have invention, peril and purpose and Loren’s totty actually has some semblance of a personality invested into her.


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