Once upon a time, I almost watched the film Arabesque (1966). I say ‘almost’ because after about 45 minutes everyone else in the room protested that it was a turkey, and decided to watch something much more high brow (Die Hard). The film was directed by Stanley Donen, who also was responsible for Charade with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. Arabesque is a very similar movie, with the same pros and cons as Charade – great clothes, interesting cinematography, and a light-hearted spy plot with numerous twists, however that is tempered with damp chemistry between the two leads and incredibly wooden dialogue. It also contains the dodgiest ‘fake-Arabs’ you have ever seen.
If I had been by myself though, I would have certainly watched it the whole way through (and at some point in the future definitely will) purely for the fantastic visuals. The opening credits alone are a psychedelic delight – designed by Maurice Binder, who was responsible for the famous James Bond titles, as well as Charade and Barbarella. Sophia Loren wears a host of chic 60s outfits designed by Marc Bohan for Christian Dior, and much of the film is spent running around interesting locations in London. The cinematography is also loads of fun, with lots of interesting angles, reflections, shadows and peep-through shots.
Worth watching for Sophia’s Christian Dior outfits alone – note her signature look of a sparkly brooch at the side of the shoulder or neck. Très chic.