The Arabian Nights (1974)

Genres - Adventure, Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Fantasy Adventure, Romantic Fantasy, Costume Adventure  |   Run Time - 155 min.  |   Countries - France, Italy  |   MPAA Rating - NC17
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Men are told by wise women not to do certain things; the men do them anyway and suffer consequences. It's an age-old problem with humanity, as Pier Paolo Pasolini richly illustrates in this adaptation of the fabulous tales of magic, mystery, and frequent sex. The film's stories overlap, fold in on each other, and there are occasional jumps in continuity, though this may be a consequence of reviewing a 131 minute-version, the one available on DVD, rather than the original 155-minute version. The locations, particularly the desert villages and cities of Yemen, Iran, and Eritrea, steal the show from the actors, who are rarely convincing, often reduced to giggling their dialogue. That delivery is at least amusing with the oft-repeated line by various males, "You're making me hard," as the pliant female characters minister to their sexual needs. Despite the abundant nudity (both female and male), this is hardly the sensual romp it might have been, but Pasolini's imagery compensates for the most part, and there's a wry wind-up involving mistaken sexual identity.