Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Omar Khayyam

(vt The Life, Loves and Adventures of Omar Khayyam) US movie (1956). Paramount. Pr Frank Freeman Jr. Dir William Dieterle. Spfx John P Fulton. Screenplay Barré Lyndon. Starring John Derek (Prince Malik), Raymond Massey (Shah), Debra Paget (Sharain), Michael Rennie (Hasani), Cornel Wilde (Omar). 101 mins. Colour.

An Arabian Fantasy more in the spirit of The Thief of Bagdad (1924) and Kismet (1930) than The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (12th century; trans 1859 anon by Edward Fitzgerald [1809-1883], revs as trans EF; rev 1868; rev 1872; rev 1879), although it is studded with quotations from the Fitzgerald version. Here the poet has an "aw, shucks" style and a habit of lurching into homespun cliché. Not only a poet but an expert on clocks and the Calendar, he is employed in all capacities by the Shah of Persia, with whose newest wife Omar is in love. Many buckles are swashed in a routine adventure.

This is a disappointing movie from Dieterle. One of the co-stars is indeed the same John Derek who would direct such movies as Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981; > Tarzan Movies) and Ghosts Can't Do It (1990). [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.