Peter Cushing : Baron Frankentein. Freddie Jones: Professor Richter/Dr Brandt. Simon Ward: Karl Holst. Veronica Carlson: Anna Spengler. Maxine Audley: Ella Brandt. George Pravda: Dr Frederick Brandt. Thorley Walters: Inspector Fritsch.
Crew:Director: Terence Fisher. Screenplay: Ben Batt. Story: Ben Batt & Anthony Nelson-Keys, Producer: Anthony Nelson-Keys. Photography: Arthur Grant. Music: James Bernard. Makeup: Eddie Knight. Art Direction: Bernard Robinson. Production Company: Hammer Films
Synopsis: Frankenstein is forced to flee town again after his experiments are discovered. He signs into the boarding house of Anna Spengler in a new town. When he discovers that Anna’s fiancee Karl Holst has been stealing cocaine from the asylum where he works to help his ailing mother, Frankenstein blackmails them both with threat of calling the authorities. He takes over the boarding house and has Karl steal supplies so that he can set up a laboratory in the basement. He then discovers that his old colleague Dr Brandt is incarcerated in the asylum, having been deemed mad. Frankenstein wants the secrets of how Brandt successfully conducted brain transplants and devises a scheme to break him out with Karl’s help. However, the attempt places Brandt in a coma. Frankenstein makes the decision to transplant Brandt’s brain into the body of the incompetent asylum head Professor Richter. During the process, he cures the problem that was causing Brandt’s madness. However, when Brandt comes around, Frankenstein realizes that he was mad after all. Brandt then escapes, setting a trap to kill Frankenstein.
Terence Fisher is a director around whom a cult has grown, championed in particular by the likes of Anglo-horror critic David Pirie. Fisher had a distinctively florid style that used the full richness of Hammer’s cinematographic and production values and there are times, particularly the climaxes of his Dracula films, where he could bring everything together with dazzling effect. Upon other occasions, Fisher could be a pedestrian director. Fisher’s two finest moments are generally regarded as being Dracula/The Horror of Dracula (1958) and The Devil Rides Out (1968). (See below for Terence Fisher’s other films). Contrarily one might go out on a limb and suggest thatFrankenstein Must Be Destroyed is the best of Terence Fisher’s films and certainly the finest of Hammer’s Frankenstein films. It is Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Fisher’s penultimate film, rather than Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (1973), that Anglo-horror-philes should consider Terence Fisher’s swan song. It is the one moment where everything he did knitted together superbly.
Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed is a brilliantly directed film, one that propels Terence Fisher from being an efficient manipulator of the Gothic into a master of mise en scene. The scene where the water main bursts, expelling Brandt’s buried body out of the garden just as the neighbour is visiting, is a sequence that would not go amiss in a Hitchcock film. The opening is a superbly edited piece – one that opens up like a Chinese box of shocks one after the other from the point-of-view of a burglar who breaks into Frankenstein’s laboratory. At first, we see just the feet of the figure coming down the cellar steps, the figure then joltingly revealed to have a bald, hideously scarred face, before this is revealed to be a mask worn by Peter Cushing, and with the burglar then accidentally tripping and knocking over a container that holds a recently severed human head. Of course, the climax with Freddie Jones taunting Peter Cushing and smashing oil lamps to set fire and block every exit from the house is superlative stuff too.
Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed is also a point where the new gore trends were making in-roads into Anglo-horror. Terence Fisher handles that too with an ease that leaves the film in a class way above the random splatter of today’s gore films. There is something that turns the stomach to the shot where Peter Cushing puts the brace-and-bit up against Freddie Jones’s head and starts drilling. Or the scene where he uses a fretsaw to cut open the skull. There is no blood shown in either scene – the effect is all conveyed from off-screen actions and some unnervingly convincing snapping and crunching effects.
Bert Batt’s screenplay is more complex than usual for the Hammer Frankenstein series. For Hammer’s Frankenstein series, unlike Universal’s Frankenstein series, the monster is a relatively anonymous creation that is far less interesting than Peter Cushing’s ruthless Baron. However, Freddie Jones’s creature is the most interestingly complex and well played of all the Hammer’s Frankenstein monsters – it is the only one to come anywhere near Mary Shelley’s novel and her conception of an intelligent and literate creation come to taunt its creator for the condition inflicted on it.
Surprisingly, Terence Fisher also indulges a sense of droll humour throughout the film – like the cut from Veronica Carlson telling Peter Cushing how he will enjoy the peace and quiet at the boarding house to a madwoman screaming at the asylum, or the boarders who sit around discussing Frankenstein’s infamous exploits unaware he is sitting in their midst. There are odd anachronisms, like having cocaine a regularly prescribed drug and the establishment of an international narcotics bureau in the midst of the 19th Century, although these hardly stand in the way of such an exceptional effort.
The other Hammer Frankenstein films are:– The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), The Evil of Frankenstein (1964), Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1973).
Terence Fisher’s other genre films are:– the sf films The Four-Sided Triangle (1953) and Spaceways (1953), The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Dracula/The Horror of Dracula (1958), The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959), The Mummy (1959), The Stranglers of Bombay (1959), The Brides of Dracula (1960), The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll (1960), The Curse of the Werewolf (1961), The Phantom of the Opera (1962), The Gorgon (1964), Dracula – Prince of Darkness (1966), Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), The Devil Rides Out/The Devil’s Bride (1968) and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1973), all for Hammer. Outside of Hammer, Fisher has made the Old Dark House comedy The Horror of It All (1964) and the alien invasion films The Earth Dies Screaming (1964), Island of Terror (1966) and Night of the Big Heat (1967).
Though not a Hammer film per se, Fury at Smugglers Bay (1961) has all the earmarks of that studio's swashbucklers. Among other things, Peter Cushing is top-billed, and the picture was directed by John Gilling who, in addition to directing Cushing in the Hammer-esque The Flesh and the Fiends (1960), went on to make seven films for Hammer, including the somewhat similar Pirates of Blood River (1962). Fury at Smugglers Bay is an enjoyable quasi-pirate movie, perhaps Gilling's best work, an old-fashioned melodrama loaded with swordfights and shipwrecks and, for that matter, fury and smugglers.
Though Cushing is top-billed, his is really a supporting part. Indeed, one of the picture's more unusual aspects is that, probably unintentionally, there is no central character. The story is set in 1789, at a remote fishing village off the English coast. Merchant ships frequently crash and are sunk off its rocky coast, and this has led to a fight over the booty brought ashore. On one side are the "Wreckers,Ecutthroat mercenaries led by Black John (Bernard Lee); on the other is the comparatively honest fisher folk, lead by merchant François LeJeune (George Coulouris). Caught in the middle are Christopher Trevenyan (John Fraser), son of the local squire (Peter Cushing), and a Dick Turpin-like highwayman known only as The Captain (William Franklyn).
The film's story is thin and predictable, but its rich atmosphere and continuous action keep things moving. Most of the drama hinges on the nightly shoreline battles between the Wreckers (who light fires on the beach to draw ships into the rocks) and the fisher folk, and Squire Trevenyan's hard line condemnation of the latter when LeJeune and several others are caught red-handed. Complicating matters is LeJeune's daughter, Louise (Michèle Mercier), who is in love with Christopher, though the squire disapproves of his son socializing with the lower classes. The older Trevenyan's behavior is a mystery: Is he in collusion with Black John (who had been a servant to the squire years before) or is he simply an ineffectual snob?
Fury at Smugglers Bay was independently produced, a co-production between Regal Films International and John Gilling Enterprises. This may account for its relative obscurity and the confusion over its cast and their roles (the IMDB is a mess in this regard). Additionally, many sources incorrectly list this as a black and white film; presumably it was exhibited in America that way at some point, either theatrically or on television.
In any case, both the movie and the DVD are definitely in color Evivid color, in fact. Fury at Smugglers Bay was shot in an anamorphic process called Panascope, which apparently had the somewhat unusual aspect ratio of 2:1. Given the limitations of anamorphic lenses of the period, director of photography Harry Waxman (who also shot Swiss Family Robinson and The Day the Earth Caught Fire around this time) does a marvelous job sucking what life he can out of the process. Waxman consistently makes dramatic use of the rocky English coastline, of riders on horseback against the deep blue sky. The picture has a lot of day-for-night photography, and Waxman shoots this more effectively than most. The film's color is especially good -- soldiersEuniforms are vividly red, and in a scene with the Duke of Avon (Miles Malleson), Cushing is seen wearing a royal purple and violet colored jacket that nearly pops off the screen.
Cushing himself is fine, alternately snooty and charming, but he doesn't have much to do. The picture suggests a major dramatic scene where the squire learns (incorrectly, as it turns out) that his son has been killed. One would bet that this scene was scripted but either not shot or deleted prior to release. Whatever the case, its absence denies Cushing an obvious and dramatically-needed scene.
The real surprise, though, is Bernard Lee's Black John. Best remembered as "MEin the first 11 James Bond movies, Lee seems to relish his atypical role in Fury at Smugglers Bay. Sporting a long scar over and around his right eye, wearing a pirate's earring, and sporting a five-day beard, Lee quietly sneers through the role in an effectively ominous manner.
The picture's technical aspects are very good for what was presumably a low-budget film. There are a number of shots of a ship at sea, caught in a violent storm, which eventually crashes into the rocks. This footage is clearly lifted from another film, a black and white picture tinted blue for use here. The film seems rather old and converted to scope from standard 35mm. The filmmakers do such a good job doctoring the footage that their deception almost works, but not quite. John Victor-Smith edited the film, and his cutting of the big action scenes reminds one of the style of Peter Hunt. Victor-Smith and director Gilling over-crank many of the fight scenes, but this is overdone giving some shots the feel of a Keystone Kops short.
Video & Audio
Cinema Club's DVD is letterboxed and, happily, has been 16:9 enhanced for widescreen TVs. In addition to the great color, the transfer itself is good, putting the format in the best possible light. The mono sound is fine if unexceptional. No subtitles or closed captioning are offered. And there are no extras at all, not even a trailer.
Though hardly a masterpiece, Fury at Smugglers Bay, like its evocative title, is an atmospheric, old-fashioned swashbuckler, the kind of throwaway escapist film they just don't make anymore.
WHEN THIS PROGRAMME WAS PRINTED IN IRELAND IN 1977 'STAR WARS' WAS ALREADY BREAKING BOX OFFICE RECORDS. PETER SAID OF THE FILM 'IT SEEMED LIKE A FUN IDEA. SOMETHING CHILDREN WOULD LIKE...AND GEORGE LUCAS SEEMED LIE SUCH A NICE YOUNG MAN'...THE REST AS THEY SAY, IS HISTORY.
ONE OF PETER CUSHING'S MANY PASSIONS...THIS IS A FEATURE FROM THE BOOK 'TELEVISION CHILDREN'S HOUR, YOUR TV FRIENDS, INTRODUCED BY MICHAEL WESTMORE' A GREAT BOOK AND ONE OF MANY BOOKS AND MAGAZINES TO CARRY THE STORY OF PETER'S LOVE OF MAKING MODEL THEATERS AND WAR GAMES.
THE 'HAMMER FILMS' PUBLICITY MACHINE HAS WELL AND TRULY STARTED ROLLING ON BOTH SIDES OF THE ATLANTIC. PETERCUSHING.ORG HAS LEARNT THAT SHANE BRIANT HAS GIVEN AN INTERVIEW TO THE 'NEW YORK TIMES' TODAY, DUE TO GO TO PRINT IN THE NEXT TEN DAYS.
THE INTERVIEW IS ONE OF MANY FEATURES AND REPORTS THAT WILL BE APPEARING IN THE PRESS OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS AS HAMMER FILMS ROLLS OUT THE NEWS OF THEIR 'RESTORATION INITIATIVE' AND THE RELEASING OF SEVERAL HAMMER CLASSICS ON HD AND BLU RAY.
SHANE HAS RECENTLY RECORDED COMMENTARIES FOR THE NEW RELEASES OF HAMMER FILMS 'FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL' AND 'CAPTAIN KRONOS: VAMPIRE HUNTER' DUE FOR RELEASE EARLY THIS YEAR.
SHANE HAS ALSO RECENTLY RELEASED HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY, 'SHANE BRIANT: ALWAYS THE BAD GUY'. A VERY GOOD READ!
Famous Fantastic Mysteries October, 1951 featuring the first ever printing of "The Man Who Collected Poe" by Robert Bloch (beginning on page 98) -- basis for the Peter Cushing and Jack Palance segment of the same name in Amicus Films 1966 film 'Torture Garden' Directed by Freddie Francis.
TERENCE FISHER INTERVIEW THAT APPEARED IN THE UK NEWSPAPER 'NEW REVEILLE' BACK IN NOVEMBER 1973 ON THE BACK OF PROMOTION FOR HAMMER FILMS LATEST AND LAST FRANKENSTEIN FILM: 'FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MONSTER FROM HELL' IT HAS SOME INTERESTING LITTLE QUOTES FROM FISHER INCLUDING : 'WE'VE USED SOME NEW TECHNIQUES...THIS TIME THE MONSTER'S MAKE UP IS SO THIN THAT YOU CAN ACTUALLY SEE HIS FACE MUSCLE WORKING. VERY EFFECTIVE.' ...IF ONLY!
THIS PRESS CUTTING IS NOT A PHOTOCOPY AND HAS BEEN SCANNED FROM THE ORIGINAL FULL SIZED TABLOID DOUBLE PAGE NEWSPAPER. SHOULD YOU HAVE DIFFICULTY READING THE TEXT, FEEL FREE TO RIGHT CLICK AND COPY...AND SHARE. NEWSPAPER INTERVIEWS WITH TERENCE FISHER ARE QUITE RARE..!
Last week I continued my exploration of the Hammer Horror portion of Peter Cushing’s distinguished career by watching The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) As a rule, I tend not to like sequels but I have to say that as usual with Peter’s films I was more than impressed. The film does show the usual signs of the low budgets for which Hammer is known and loved. I noticed a few takes that probably should have been re shot because an actor fumbled a line and of course most of the detail on the sets was painted on much like a theatre set. But as usual Peter’s performance was completely flawless and carried the film. I can imagine most of his shots were done in a single take because of his ability.
The story was quite interesting and took the Frankenstein story in a different direction entirely from The Curse of Frankenstein (1957). The new monster looked decidedly more human than in the previous film. There was more interaction with the monster. The story was more sophisticated. It made me curious. I had not yet actually read the classic novel so I decided to go to the source. I downloaded Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and found something that did not entirely surprise me, that none of the spin off films really are much like the book, however, The Revenge of Frankenstein comes closer to the classic novel than any other films that I have seen.
In the book, the monster speaks with a sophisticated voice. He reasons. He observes. He is quite sympathetic as is Dr. Frankenstein. The original story is about a man, crushed by his mother’s death, who decides to learn how to cheat death by reanimating a corpse only to have his creation run away. He later finds that the creature has killed someone and catches up with him. At this point the creature speaks perfect English and articulates in quite an educated tone what his thoughts are about the society that he was ‘born’ into.
It was very instructive to me to read the book and compare it in my mind to Revenge. I understand that the Hammer Horrors were originally devised as remakes to the then already classic horror films of the 1930’s and in the case of Curse, that is exactly what you will see. But Revenge is something more. Before reading the book, I noticed that Peter was playing Frankenstein in a much more sympathetic way then he had in Curse.
As I discussed in my last article Peter has a way of working likability into even the most heinous characters actually adding to the creep factor of those characters. In Revenge we still see that Frankenstein is a sociopath but we also see greater depth. We see him take pride in caring for the poor, though of course he takes advantage of this, and he does seem actually to care about them when it is convenient for him of course. Classic Peter.
I very much enjoyed Revenge. I liked a Frankenstein creation that can articulate his desires, think for himself, liberate himself In Revenge, just as in the original novel by Shelley, the creature escapes to gain greater freedom and control over his life only to kill someone. In Revenge the creature shows up at a social event begging for assistance from Frankenstein before his death.
What I enjoyed most about the film was its end. Frankenstein finds that the poor men who he treats in his clinic turn on him and beat him almost to death. Before he dies, Frankenstein is preserved by his assistant who is able to recreate him in the same way that he had created the two previous creatures. The film ends with Dr Frankenstein opening a clinic in England under an assumed name.
I find it brilliant, bringing Frankenstein to the country of the author’s home country and making him a Frankenstein creature. One of the last shots in the film is Peter as the creature version of Frankenstein smiling perhaps a little manically into a mirror, adding a further nuance the character further. I really do enjoy Peter’s work.
SYNOPSIS: With the help of Karl, the crippled dwarf hangman, whom he promises a new body, Frankenstein escapes the gallows and they hang the officiating priest instead. Under the name Stein, Frankenstein sets up practice in the town of Karlsbruck, alternating between volunteer work at the poor hospital, which is a goldmine of parts to build up Karl’s new body, and private practice where his courtly charms draw him the devotion of the upper-classes. He is recognised by eager young Hans Kleve who forces Frankenstein to take him on as an assistant. Together they transplant Karl’s brain into the new patchwork body. The operation is successful but soon the body’s limbs return to their old crippled positions. Karl escapes and brings shame down on Frankenstein when he bursts in on a society function, crying “Frankenstein help me.”
Hammer Films had huge success with their remake of the Frankenstein story, The Curse of Frankenstein (1957).Curse’s revitalization of the Frankensteinstory, its plush sets and colour photography and its no-holds-barred shock value for the time made the Hammer horror legend, not to mention the careers of director Terence Fisher, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster and stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. All four collaborated on Hammer’s Dracula/The Horror of Dracula (1958) the following year, which was an even bigger success that consolidated the Hammer name beyond a doubt.
The Revenge of Frankenstein was quickly made on the tails ofDracula and was the first of six Frankenstein sequels that Hammer would produce. The Revenge of Frankenstein is one of the rare occasions when a sequel proves equally as inventive as the original. Indeed, in the generally creatively impoverished world of the sequels, The Revenge of Frankenstein may well be one sequel that finds the most ingeniously creative way of continuing on from its predecessor. The Curse of Frankenstein closed with Frankenstein about to be taken off to the gallows – the opening of The Revenge of Frankenstein segues in flawlessly by revealing that Frankenstein and the dwarf hangman conspired to hang the officiating priest instead. Eventually, Jimmy Sangster’s script reaches a positively ingenious twist ending, one that becomes a black joke in the face of the frequent public confusion of Frankenstein and his creation, with Sangster cleverly allowing the two to in effect become one and the same.
Hammer eventually made as many Frankenstein films as Universal did with their Frankenstein series in the 1930s and 40s. Whereas Universal’s series quickly ran to tired formulaic repetition with the monster being revived by some Frankenstein descendant and rampaging through the township before being destroyed in a laboratory explosion, Hammer maintained their Frankenstein series at a much higher degree of creativity. The most noticeable difference is that for Universal the lop-topped, bolt-necked monster became the continuing character, while here it is Peter Cushing’s Baron Frankenstein who is at the centre of the series with the monster remaining a supporting character with different faces and played by different actors. The reasons become clear – for Universal the monster was the continuing character because the underlying anxiety for their series was the horror of science defying divine provenance, represented by the socially cataclysmic effects of the monster unleashed; whereas for Hammer horror was the placidity of upper-class decency being disrupted by repressive forces from beneath such as Frankenstein’s ruthlessly amoral quest for knowledge or Dracula’s ravening animal lust.
Nowhere is the dichotomy that Frankenstein represents for Hammer more evident than here in The Revengeof Frankenstein. Whereas inCurse, Frankenstein represented a cold ruthlessness beneath the mask of upper-class decency and propriety, in The Revenge of Frankenstein the metaphor is expanded to take in the entirety of the divide between upper and working classes. Frankenstein is wittily shown as a Janus-faced figure straddling both sides of the class divide with an equal measure of hypocrisy – on one hand courting the upper-classes with barely disguised contempt, while on the other pillaging the working classes for their limbs while professing the outward manifestations of charity.
The Hammer production crew are on top form with luxuriant photography, a rich and lavish score and exquisitely dressed sets. Terence Fisher is on excellent form too. Especially memorable is the scene where Karl bursts into the ballroom crying “Frankenstein, help me”, which Fisher directs and edits, bringing all the separate elements together with an explosive precision that is quite masterful.
THE REVENGE OF FRANKENSTEIN 1958
Peter Cushing (Dr Victor Frankenstein/Stein), Francis Matthews (Hans Kleve), Michael Gwynn (Karl), Eunice Gayson (Margaret Conrad), Oscar Quitak (Dwarf Karl)
Director: Terence Fisher, Screenplay: Jimmy Sangster, Additional Dialogue: H. Hurford Janes, Producer: Anthony Hinds, Photography: Jack Asher, Music: Leonard Salzedo, Makeup: Phil Leakey, Production Design: Bernard Robinson. Production Company: Hammer.
The other Hammer Frankenstein films are:– The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), The Evil of Frankenstein (1964), Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1973).
Terence Fisher’s other genre films are:– the sf films The Four-Sided Triangle (1953) and Spaceways(1953), The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Dracula/The Horror of Dracula (1958), The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959), The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959),The Mummy (1959), BoThe Stranglers ofmbay(1959), The Brides of Dracula (1960), The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll (1960), The Curse of the Werewolf (1961), The Phantom of the Opera (1962), The Gorgon (1964), Dracula – Prince of Darkness (1966), Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), The Devil Rides Out/The Devil’s Bride (1968), Frankenstein Must be Destroyed (1969) andFrankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1973), all for Hammer. Outside of Hammer, Fisher has made the Old Dark House comedy The Horror of It All (1964) and the alien invasion films The Earth Dies Screaming (1964), Island of Terror (1966) and Night of the Big Heat (1967).
Set in the Arabian city of Jadur in mystical times past. The three principal characters in this adventure are the evil magician Caliph Alquazar who lives in the palace; Majeed, a poor young Arab boy who arrives in the city looking for water; and Prince Hasan of Baghdad who comes to the city hoping to meet the beautiful Princess Zuleira who lives in the palace. Majeed and the Prince briefly meet up and exchange kindnesses before going their separate ways.
Alquazar is Princess Zuleira's stepfather who has become corrupted by evil and made the once benevolently ruled city a harsh place to live. Alquazar has a secret chamber in which he keeps a magic mirror which enables him to remotely view any location. Alquazar's aspiration is to possess the fabled Rose of Ilil, a talisman so powerful it will enable him to rule the world - but because of his evil he cannot fetch it for himself, it must be delivered to him by someone noble of purpose.
The mirror alerts him that the very person has arrived in the city and shows him an image of Prince Hasan in the company of a young Arab boy. Alquazar sends his guards to capture the Prince - not an easy task because the Prince is a valiant fighter, but eventually he is apprehended. Alquazar says he will permit Hasan to marry Zuleira if he first goes on a quest to bring back the Rose of Ilil. Hasan agrees and Alquazar sends him away on a magic carpet. Along the way Hasan is unexpectedly joined by Majeed who is transported to the carpet by his guardian angel genie Vahishta as a way of evading some city ruffians.
The carpet delivers them to the island of Ilil where there are a number of dangers to overcome as they encounter various protectors of the Rose. Eventually they find the magical Rose but it turns out to be young Majeed who was the noble one that the mirror was showing as able to pluck the glowing crystalline Rose.
The travellers return to Jadur but it soon becomes clear that evil Alquazar is not intending to honour his bargain and is planning to kill them once the Rose is handed over. Majeed works out what to do to defeat the wizard and throws the Rose of Ilil into Alquazar's magic mirror which sucks the evil one inside and reverses all his evil spells.
The kingdom is restored to its previous happy glory and the deposed former ruler is released from the dungeons to reign again. Prince Hasan and Princess Zuleira are married.
This is a movie about the classic 1001 Nights. It was very much overlooked at the time it came out and still is, I guess. For a British low-budget movie it had a big cast: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Capucine, Mickey Rooney, Milo O'Shea, Emma Sams, Oliver Tobias (well, some of them are or were big). Most of all, this is a tribute from Christopher Lee to Conrad Veidt in The Thief of Bagdad (1940). And he does a marvelous job, clad in black and looking as sinister as in his best Dracula- or Fu Manchu-movies.
Peter Cushing could be called mostly waisted in a small cameo-part, but that was his choice to sign up for a part in it anyway I guess; Mickey Rooney does his usual buffoonery but not totally out-of-place in this movie. The special effects vary from shoddy to amazing. The mechanical fire-breathing monsters don't look too convincing.
The flying carpet-scenes on the other hand are very well executed, in some moments even breath-taking (considering this movie was made in 1979, 2 years after Star Wars and clearly some of the flying carpet-scenes were executed with the knowledge they had already learned from Star Wars). If one compares this movie with the original The Thief of Bagdad from 1940, of course the special effects in An Arabian Adventure are better, even on a small budget. It is a children's-movie, for most parts. Or a family-movie. Not a masterpiece, but very entertaining in its own right.