The Magic Carpet (1951), starring Lucille Ball and John Agar
I’ve just finished watching The Magic Carpet with my children, having DVR’ed it earlier. How can I describe this movie? The word “cheesy”comes to mind; it’s a very typical Arabian Nights-style story, with an evil man overthrowing (and killing) the Caliph of the land, in order to seize control. The Caliph’s wife, however, manages to send their baby son to safety on the “magic carpet” where he’s raised by a relative, without knowing his true identity. He (John Agar) grows up, and on his own leads a Robin Hood-style insurrection against the evil, oppressive Caliph.
So, where does Lucille Ball fit into this? In a secondary role as the Caliph’s pretty, scheming, bored sister. It’s not a comedic role, but Lucy does her part well, as does the equally evil Grand Vizier, played by … Raymond Burr, TV’s Perry Mason. The special effects are “cheesy”, as is the dialog, It was fun to watch with my children, as we laughed at the ‘serious’ movie together, but it’s not a comedy, and I frankly wouldn’t pay to watch it. But it was a bit of a treat to watch it on Turner Classic Movies.
Trivia about The Magic Carpet
- Lucille Ball had often complained to Columbia Pictures head Harry Cohn about the quality of the pictures she had been doing while under contract to the studio. At the time this picture was made, Ball was only obligated to Columbia for one more film, and Cohn had producer Sam Katzman, who turned out most of Columbia’s low-budget “B” pictures, concoct this cheap Arabian Nights fantasy as a punishment to Ball for her constantly challenging him to give her better roles.
- Lucille Ball was pregnant during filming.
Cast of characters
- Lucille Ball (The Fuller Brush Girl (1950); I Love Lucy) … Princess Narah. Pretty, bored, pretty bored beautiful sister of the Caliph. She imagines she can make the Scarlet Falcon fall in love with her.
- John Agar (Attack of the Puppet People; Tarantula) … Abdullah al Husan / Dr. Ramoth / The Scarlet Falcon. Our protagonist, fighting to free his kingdom from the evil Caliph.
- Patricia Medina (The Beast of Hollow Mountain) … Lida. Love interest for Abdullah. A “tigress”.
- George Tobias (My Wild Irish Rose; Sergeant York) … Razi
- Raymond Burr (Godzilla, King of the Monsters; Bride of the Gorilla) … Boreg. The evil vizier, right-hand man to the Caliph. Reminds me for all the world of the Sheriff of Nottingham.
- Gregory Gaye (Ninotchka; Black Magic) … Caliph Ali. The villain, who stole the kingdom.
- Rick Vallin (Batman and Robin movie serial; Ghosts on the Loose) … Abdul
- Jo Gilbert … Maras