AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Adventures of Hajji Baba
Director: Don Weis (Dir)
Release Date:   Oct 1954
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles opening: 7 Oct 1954; New York opening: 8 Oct 1954
Production Date:   15 Apr--11 May 1954
Duration (in mins):   92-93
Duration (in reels):   11
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Cast:   John Derek (Hajji Baba)  
    Elaine Stewart (Princess Fawzia)  
    Amanda Blake (Banah)  
    Rosemarie Bowe (Ayesha)  
    Thomas Gomez (Osman Aga)  
    Paul Picerni (Prince Nur-El-Din)  
    Donald Randolph (Caliph)  
    Peter Mamakos (Chief executioner)  
    Kurt Katch (Chaoush Mandan)  
    Joann Arnold (Susu)  
    Ed Perry (Guard)  
    Bert Arnold (Guard)  
    Bob Swan (Guard)  
    Tony George (Guard)  
    Howard Gould (Giant guard)  
    Paul Baxley (Warrior)  
    Veronica Pataky (Kulub)  
    Linda Danson (Fabria)  
    Michael Granger (Musa)  
    Carl Milletaire (Captain)  
    Joseph Waring (Captain)  
    Charles Heard (Julnah, horseman)  
    Eileen Howe (Slave girl)  
    Beverly Kidd (Slave girl)  
    Dolly Summers (Slave girl)  
    Leon Corwin (Slave girl)  
    Millicent Rodgers (Slave girl)  
    Ann Carroll (Slave girl)  
    Pat Lawlor (Slave girl)  
    Anna Navarro (Slave girl)  
    Percy Helton (Kerbelai)  
    Claude Akins (Aide)  
    Peter Leeds (Thin merchant)  
    Leo Mostovoy (Barber)  
    Than Wyenn (Auctioneer)  
    Joe Martorano (Courier)  
    Kenneth Alton (Messenger)  
    Paul Marion (Messenger)  
    Beverly Thompson (Handmaiden)  
    Madeline Witlinger (Handmaiden)  
    Marilyn Dean (Handmaiden)  
    Pat Sheehan (Handmaiden)  
    Laurette Luez (Meriam)  
    Eugenia Paul (Shireen)  
    Barbara James (Zeenad)  
    Booth Colman (Akim)  
    Melinda Markey    

Summary: In ancient Persia, barber Hajji Baba tires of his sedentary life and decides to leave his home town of Ispahan to seek adventure and fortune. Merchant Osman Aga bets another trader that the handsome Hajji will become a success within six months, while in the palace, Princess Fawzia greets her father, the caliph of Ispahan. The caliph is infuriated by his headstrong daughter’s insistence on marrying Prince Nur-El-Din, who has a reputation as a cruel womanizer. When her father informs her that she will instead marry his ally in Basra, Fawzia disguises herself as a boy and slips out of the palace to a nearby stream, where she is to meet one of Nur-El-Din’s warriors. Unknown to the princess, Hajji, passing by and intrigued by the warrior’s warning that he is there to pick up a valuable treasure, has bested the warrior in a fight and taken the prince’s seal. Assuming that Nur-El-Din has sent a warrior disguised as a barber to accompany her to his home in Meshed, Fawzia asserts that her emerald ring is the treasure the prince is seeking, but when her turban unravels, Hajji realizes who she is and that she is Nur-El-Din’s treasure. As her father’s soldiers approach, Fawzia offers Hajji the emerald to take her to Meshed. The couple gallop off through the desert, and when they stop to rest, Hajji, more interested in escaping the caliph than in romance, resists the curious princess’ attempt to kiss him. The couple then overtake Osman’s caravan, and Hajji introduces Fawzia, again dressed as a boy, as his apprentice. Osman intends to sell goods at the wedding of Fawzia and Nur-El-Din, and shows Hajji a beautiful slave girl, the dancer Ayesha, whom he hopes will interest the fickle prince. Fawzia grows jealous of Hajji’s delight in Ayesha and is angered to hear the men gossiping that the princess is spoiled and tempermental. Later that night, Nur-El-Din’s warrior, who has followed Hajji, fights with him to regain the princess, but during their struggle, she is apprehended by one of her father’s men. Hajji temporarily rescues Fawzia and squabbles with her again about love, but they are captured by the caliph’s soldiers and marched through the great pass on the way to Basra. Occupying the pass, however, are the legendary Turcoman warriors, former harem slaves who have escaped and become thieves. The women capture both the soldiers and Osman’s caravan, and the women’s leader, the strong-willed Banah, decides to keep Hajji as her consort. Later, Fawzia’s identity is revealed, and Fabria, one of Banah’s compatriots and Fawzia’s former slave, repays her ex-mistress’ cruelties by tying her arms to a pole and hoisting her into the air. That night, Hajji sneaks out of Banah’s tent to rescue Fawzia, but they are caught and strung up to die together. A group of the women are then attacked by Nur-El-Din’s men, and Banah leads her troops to avenge them. Left alone, Fawzia apologizes to Hajji for her selfish behavior, and the couple declare their love for each other. In the desert, the Turcomans are captured by Nur-El-Din, and when he sees Banah wearing Fawzia’s emerald ring, he demands to know where she got it. Ayesha, hoping to earn the prince’s favor, tells him that Fawzia is at the Turcoman camp, and Nur-El-Din’s men rescue her and Hajji. When they are brought before Nur-El-Din, Fawzia prompts Hajji to tell him that they are in love, but after Hajji sees the jealous prince execute a man who stole one of his harem girls, he states that he was merely bringing Fawzia to him in exchange for the emerald. Crushed, Fawzia goes with Nur-El-Din, who sends two of his men back to execute Hajji and retrieve the gem. Hajji kills the men, and before sending their corpses to Nur-El-Din’s camp, shaves their heads as a message to Fawzia that he is still true to her. Back in Ispahan, Osman praises Hajji’s new status as a wealthy merchant, due to the sale of the emerald, but Hajji admits that he is unhappy because he does not have Fawzia. In the desert, Fawzia interrupts a romantic encounter between Nur-El-Din and Ayesha and declares that she will not marry the prince. Angered, Nur-El-Din reveals that he needs control of Ispahan to succeed in his plan to conquer Persia. In the city, the caliph sends for Hajji and reveals that Fawzia has informed him of Nur-El-Din’s plans. Knowing that Hajji loves Fawzia, the caliph begs him to save her and states that sometimes one man can do what an army cannot. The determined Hajji then travels with Osman’s caravan to Nur-El-Din’s camp, where, disguised as a holy man, he approaches Ayesha. Telling the dancer that if Fawzia is gone she will be able to become Nur-El-Din’s bride, Hajji persuades her to slip the guards some drugged wine. Meanwhile, Fawzia has snuck away and, dressed as Hajji’s apprentice, asks Osman to take her to Ispahan. Osman reunites Fawzia with Hajji, who tells her of his plan to free the Turcomans in order to distract Nur-El-Din from her escape. After Ayesha gives the guards the wine, the women are freed and begin to battle Nur-El-Din’s men. The prince notices that Fawzia is missing, however, and pursues her and Hajji. Hajji defeats his enemy with a thrust of his sword, and soon the triumphant Banah wishes them well. Later, after Hajji and Fawzia have married, Osman collects his wager about Hajji’s success, and the new prince retires to his bed chamber with his princess. 

Production Company: Allied Artists Pictures Corp.  
Production Text: A Walter Wanger Production
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Don Weis (Dir)
  Edward Morey Jr. (Asst dir)
  Edward Rubin (Dial dir)
Writer: Richard Collins (Scr)
Photography: Harold Lipstein (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Gene Allen (Prod des)
  Hoyningen-Huene (Spec col consultant)
  David Milton (Art dir)
Film Editor: Lester A. Sansom (Supv film ed)
  William Austin (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Joseph Kish (Set dec)
Costumes: Renie (Cost des)
Music: Robert Tracy (Mus ed)
  Dimitri Tiomkin (Mus wrt and dir)
Sound: Ralph Butler (Rec)
  Del Harris (Sd ed)
  Bruce Schoengarth (Sd ed)
Make Up: Edward Polo (Makeup)
  Mary Smith (Hairdresser)
Production Misc: Allen K. Wood (Prod mgr)
  Rex Bailey (Unit mgr)
  John L. Banse (Set cont)
Country: United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs: "Hajji Baba," music by Dimitri Tiomkin, lyrics by Ned Washington, orchestral arrangement by Nelson Riddle, sung by Nat "King" Cole (A Capitol Recording Artist).
Composer: Nelson Riddle
  Dimitri Tiomkin
  Ned Washington
Source Text: Based on the novel The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan by James Morier (London, 1824).
Authors: James Morier

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 7/10/1954 dd/mm/yyyy LP4233

PCA NO: 17119
Physical Properties: Sd: Western Electric Recording
  col: De Luxe
  Widescreen/ratio: CinemaScope

 
Genre: Adventure
Sub-Genre: Arabian
 
Subjects (Major): Adventurers
  Barbers and barbershops
  Merchants
  Persia
  Romance
  Royalty
 
Subjects (Minor): Beauty, Personal
  Caliphs
  Caravans
  Dancers
  Drugging
  Emeralds
  Escapes
  Fathers and daughters
  Fights
  Harems
  Male impersonation
  Poison
  Reputation
  Rescues
  Temper
  Torture
  Wagers
  Women soldiers
  Womanizers

Note: According to contemporary news items, independent producer Walter Wanger entered into a four-picture contract with Allied Artists, with the intent that the studio would co-produce and distribute The Adventures of Hajji Baba and three other films. In mid-Apr 1954, however, Allied and Wanger struck a deal with Twentieth Century-Fox to distribute the picture. Although a 6 Apr 1954 HR news item announced that Linda Christian had been signed for a “top role,” she does not appear in the finished film. HR news items included the following actors in the cast, although their appearance in the released picture has not been confirmed: Vicki Mann, Helen Marsh, Mary Ellen Batten, Jean Corbett, Angelina Bauer, Cynthia Blair, Mary Lou Clifford, Joan Corbett, Barbara Drake, Helene Drake, La Rue Farlow, Jean Gooddall, Ruth Johnson, Beverly Jordan, Jeanne Maybery, Joan Patti, Gaye Pope, Colleen Vico, D. W. McGuire, Shirley Douglas and Cosmo Sardo.
       According to HR news items, the picture was partially shot on location at Lone Pine and the Panamint Mountains, CA. Several contemporary sources reported that former Vogue photographer George Hoyningen-Huene and production designer Gene Allen employed a “symbolic” color scheme of five colors to represent and differentiate principal settings and characters. Orange, red and brown for the caravans; green for the Turcoman women’s camp; blue for the bazaar sequences; white for “Princess Fawzia”; and black-against-white for the desert encampment of “Nur-El-Din” were the primary color schemes used, according to Apr and May 1954 Var and LAT news items. The song “Hajji Baba,” written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington and sung by Nat King Cole, is heard during the opening credits and intermittently throughout the film. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   16 Oct 1954.   
Daily Variety   7 Oct 54   p. 3.
Film Daily   8 Oct 54   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Nov 1953   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Apr 1954   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Apr 1954   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Apr 1954   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Apr 1954   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Apr 1954   p. 1, 5.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Apr 1954   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Apr 1954   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Apr 1954   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   29 Apr 1954   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Apr 1954   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   7 May 1954   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   11 May 1954   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Sep 1954   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Oct 54   p. 3.
Los Angeles Times   11 Nov 1952.   
Los Angeles Times   9 May 1954.   
Los Angeles Times   8 Oct 1954.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   16 Oct 54   p. 177.
New York Times   9 Oct 54   p. 8.
Newsweek   8 Nov 1954.   
Pix   8 Jan 1955.   
Time   1 Nov 1954.   
Variety   21 Apr 1954.   
Variety   13 Oct 54   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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