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Ghost Canyon

'The Story of Aladdin - A Thousand and One Nights'
(Cornel Wilde, Evelyn Keyes, Phil Silvers, Jim Backus, Hans Conried, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: This spellbinding collection includes 8 classic retellings of the beloved Aladdin stories all based on the classic Arabian Nights folk tales!

DVD Verdict: Highlighting four of my personal favorites from this new collection from Mill Creek Entertainment, 'A Thousand and One Nights' (1945) is a definite highlight! After finding a magical lamp, Aladdin, accompanied by his wacky sidekick Abdullah (Phil Silvers), conjures up a lovely genie (Evelyn Keyes) who aids him in his quest to win the hand of the princess.

This is the sort of silly adventure film that, unfortunately, they just don't make any more. And to top it off, the film's sense of humor and fun is so pronounced that it's hard not to like the movie.

In many ways, the film is the obvious inspiration for Disney's 'Aladdin' as well as inspired by Bob Hope and Bing Crosby's "road films". An apt title for the film might have been 'Road to Arabia'!

Next up is 'The Magic Carpet' (1951) which is an Arabian Nights-type of tale that stars Agar as a deposed prince trying to free his people from the evil rule of the caliph and his vizier, played by Burr.

Agar enlists the aid of harem girl Lucille Ball and together they win back the province, while zipping around on a flying carpet.

'The Magic Carpet' is GREAT fun. A Sam Katzman Supercinecolor bargain counter costume extravaganza with Lucille Ball and John Agar. I mean, what's not to love?

It made me want to see Monogram's 'Aladdin' and 'Hiawatha' made he same year also in Super cine-color, both of which I thought were fantastic and rich in every mad hue way possible. What a calling card for Super Cinecolor!

Then comes 'Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp' (1934, Cartoon) where Aladdin is a slave who has to clean lamps. He rubs a magic lamp, and a genie appears.

Wishing himself into the palace, the lad is off to the sultan, and meets a beautiful princess. His evil master tries to steal the lamp, but Aladdin prevails.

'Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp' (aka 'Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp'), while faithfully adhering to the basic details of the story while putting its own spin, maybe slight but is beyond lovingly cutesy and adorable too.

However, 'Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp' in no way disgraces the story and has enough freshness to stop it from being stale. It avoids the over sentimental factor and is never dull.

There are amusing gags, that aren't too corny and never repetitive, it's very charming, has a lively pace and there is a genuine likeability and cuteness.

Another gem is 'Mr. Piper and the Story of Ali Baba' (1963, Cartoon) where, of course, Mr. Piper tells the story of Ali Baba.

The first sounds you hear on this cartoon are the whimsical sounds of a deep baritone singing: “Come with me, come and see, all the wonders there will be…” and from then on it it's pure bliss to behold!

When we finally get sight of our titular Mr. Piper, the words that pops into my head like a shotgun blast are “Mr. Fun”. He lip syncs along with the theme song, but when they cut to him using his own voice, it’s clear that his own voice is not actually responsible for the dulcet tones of the intro.

At any rate, Mr. Piper asks us if we’ve ever wanted to find a great big treasure, and before we can answer, we’ve been whisked out the window and into a cartoon that flashes us instantly back to a time when everything was just so much more simpler.

The other four films included are: '1001 Arabian Nights' (1959) which is an animated retelling of the classic tale. Abdul Aziz Magoo - an ancestor of Mr. Magoo - is the lamp-selling uncle of Aladdin.

Tired of his nephew's laziness, Abdul insists that Aladdin find a wife. To his uncle's surprise, Aladdin falls in love with the beautiful Princess Yasminda.

'Arabian Nights' (2000, TV Mini-Series). This lavish production brings to life some of the most timeless fables to come down through the ages. Mind-blowing adventure and extraordinary special effects set against the backdrop of mysterious Arabia make this an exhilarating trip through the grandest adventures of all time.

'Aladdin' (1990, TV Musical Adaptation). This musical version of 'Aladdin' is based on a popular stage production of the fairytale which restores the locale to it's original Chinese roots has Aladdin discovering the lamp with the help of a scheming old magician who aims to exploit it's magic for his own ends.

The lamp contains a Genie (Barry Bostwick) who bestows upon Aladdin the riches he requires in order to marry lovely Princess Mei-Ling (Susan Egan).

The last one is 'Popeye Meets Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp' (1939, Cartoon). Olive has a job at Surprise Pictures as a script girl when she dreams up a story of Popeye in the Aladdin tale.

With quite a few similarities to Disney's 'Aladdin', which would be made over 50 years later, the villain looks a bit like Jafar, the Genie is blue and a fun character, and the way Aladdin looks once disguised as a prince looks exactly like the Prince Ali sequence!

Some Popeye fans will be upset to not see Bluto or Wimpy, but at least it's great to see Popeye have a new villain for once. And finally, at just over 20 minutes, this is the longest Popeye cartoon that I know of! This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

'The Story of Aladdin - A Thousand and One Nights' [2-Disc DVD] is out June 4th, 2019 via Mill Creek Entertainment.