By the mid-1950s, operetta had fallen out of fashion; Kismet, the cinematic version of the hit Broadway musical, tried to make its origins more palatable by injecting a large dose of comedy, but the result is too stiff, slow and stilted to really work. Making matters worse, aside from some of choreographer Jack Cole's slinky, sensual dances, there's little of the heat that the stage version offered. Director Vincente Minnelli must take the lion's share of the blame for this; never exactly comfortable with overt sexuality in his films, he particularly seems to shy away from it here. The entire film suffers from stodgy, uninspired direction, although there is plenty of eye-catching, opulent décor -- always a Minnelli strong point. Howard Keel tries hard, but the role requires both a better actor and one with a greater presence. He sounds good, of course, as does Ann Blyth, who gets the big hits -- "Baubles, Bangles and Beads," "Stranger in Paradise," and "And This is My Beloved." Unfortunately, she shares the last two with a miscast and boring Vic Damone. Dolores Gray livens things up considerably, wrapping her luscious belt around "Not Since Ninevah" and several others. With a more engaged director, Kismet could have been consistently enjoyable; as it is, it's an attractive but dull bauble that could have used more bright shiny beads.