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TCM Race and Hollywood: Arab Images on Film

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TCM Race and Hollywood: Arab Images on Film

Postby moira finnie » May 25th, 2011, 12:12 pm

The news from TCM and UPI stories about the upcoming Race in Hollywood month long examination of Arabs on film promises to be thought provoking and, for some, probably controversial:
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From the TCM website Movie News:

Arab Images on Film in TCM's Race & Hollywood Initiative in July

Turner Classic Movies is preparing to launch Race & Hollywood: Arab Images on Film, a month-long movie event that focuses on the diverse portrayals of Arabs in cinema. Tuesday and Thursday nights in July, TCM host Robert Osborne will be joined by internationally acclaimed professor, author and Middle East media consultant Dr. Jack G. Shaheen to introduce a wide range of films and provide extensive insight into Hollywood's ever-changing attitude toward Arab people.

TCM's Race & Hollywood: Arab Images on Film is the sixth installment of TCM's far-reaching and culturally significant Race & Hollywood project, an ongoing exploration of cinematic portrayals of different racial and cultural groups. Each Tuesday and Thursday evening in July will focus on a different topic, including early films, epic stories, depictions of Arab sheiks and Arab women, Arabs portrayed as villains or the subject of ridicule and movies that provide an even-handed look at Arab culture. The series will close on Thursday, July 28, with a night of films made outside Hollywood.

Among the notable works featured in the Arab Images on Film collection are 14 TCM premieres, including the award-winning Gulf War action drama Three Kings (1999), starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube; the romantic comedy-adventure Jewel of the Nile (1985), starring Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas; the Libya-set dramas Lion of the Desert (1981), starring Anthony Quinn; The Black Tent (1956), with Donald Sinden; the adventure films Tarzan the Fearless (1933), with Buster Crabbe; and the silent classic The Sheik (1921), starring Rudolph Valentino. The July lineup will also include David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), Kismet (1944), The Thief of Bagdad (1924) and several animated shorts featuring Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Popeye and other famous characters. A full schedule is included below.

"TCM is committed not only to preserving and celebrating classic films but also to digging deeper into the events and attitudes that have shaped how Hollywood depicts the world around us," Osborne said. "With Race & Hollywood: Arab Images on Film, we're setting out to track the history of Hollywood's relationship with Arabs in cinema and how it has evolved to where it is today. We hope this series provides a thought-provoking look at a very timely and important topic."

In his book Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, Dr. Shaheen writes, "When colleagues ask whether today's reel Arabs are more stereotypical than yesteryear's, I can't say the celluloid Arab has changed. He is what he has always been - the cultural 'other.' Arabs have too often been viewed as backward, barbaric and dangerously different through Hollywood's distorted lens. Unfortunately, these stereotypes are now deeply ingrained in American cinema."

As Shaheen points out, not all cinematic portrayals of Arabs are negative. "While it is true that some filmmakers have vilified the Arabs, others have not," he writes. "Some contested harmful stereotypes, displaying positive images - that is, casting an Arab as a regular person...to paraphrase an Arab proverb, Eed wahdehm a fiha tza'if, one hand alone cannot clap. Believe me, by working together, we will shatter the stereotype."

Dr. Shaheen is the world's foremost authority on images of Arabs and Muslims in American popular culture. He is the author of several award-winning books, including Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People and, most recently, Guilty: Hollywood's Verdict on Arabs after 9/11, which was named Book of the Year by ForeWord magazine. Shaheen is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar with New York University and a former news consultant on Middle Eastern affairs for CBS News. He regularly appears on national programs such as Nightline, Good Morning America, 48 Hours and The Today Show. Shaheen regularly serves as a consultant with television and motion picture companies, including Warner Bros., DreamWorks, Hanna-Barbera and Showtime. He also consulted on the George Clooney films Three Kings (1999) and Syriana (2005).


From UPI:

LOS ANGELES, May 24 (UPI) -- Turner Classic Movies says it is preparing to air a month-long movie event called "Race & Hollywood: Arab Images on Film."

TCM host Robert Osborne will be joined Tuesday and Thursday nights in July by author and Middle East media consultant Jack G. Shaheen to introduce a wide range of films and offer insight into Hollywood's changing attitude toward Arab people, the cable network said in a news release Monday.

Shaheen is the author of "Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People."

"TCM's 'Race & Hollywood: Arab Images on Film' is the sixth installment of TCM's far-reaching and culturally significant 'Race & Hollywood' project, an ongoing exploration of cinematic portrayals of different racial and cultural groups," TCM said. "Each Tuesday and Thursday evening in July will focus on a different topic, including early films, epic stories, depictions of Arab sheiks and Arab women, Arabs portrayed as villains or the subject of ridicule and movies that provide an even-handed look at Arab culture. The series will close on July 28, with a night of films made outside Hollywood."

Scheduled to be shown on the network as part of the programming slate are "Three Kings," "Jewel of the Nile," "Lion of the Desert," "The Black Tent," "Tarzan the Fearless," "The Sheik," "Lawrence of Arabia," "Caesar and Cleopatra," "Kismet," "The Thief of Bagdad" and several animated shorts featuring Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Popeye and other famous characters.

"TCM is committed not only to preserving and celebrating classic films but also to digging deeper into the events and attitudes that have shaped how Hollywood depicts the world around us," Osborne said in a statement. "With 'Race & Hollywood: Arab Images on Film,' we're setting out to track the history of Hollywood's relationship with Arabs in cinema and how it has evolved to where it is today. We hope this series provides a thought-provoking look at a very timely and important topic."


© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Read more: http://www.upi.com/Entertainment_News/M ... z1NNv7j5GS
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Re: TCM Race in Hollywood: Arabs in Cinema for July 2011

Postby moira finnie » May 25th, 2011, 12:15 pm

Race & Hollywood: Arab Images on Film
Full Schedule

The following is a complete schedule of TCM’s Race & Hollywood: Arab Images on Film. Films in bold are making their TCM debut. All times shown are Eastern.

Tuesday, July 5 – Early Images
8 p.m. The Sea Hawk (1924)
10:30 p.m. The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
1 a.m. The Sheik (1921)
2:30 a.m. Tarzan the Fearless (1933)
3:45 a.m. The Lost Patrol (1934)

Thursday, July 7 – Arabs as Villains
8 p.m. Adventure in Iraq (1943)
9:30 p.m. Action in Arabia (1944)
11 p.m. Sirocco (1951)
1 a.m. Trunk to Cairo (1966)
3:30 a.m. Sinbad the Sailor (1947)

Tuesday, July 12 – Epics
8 p.m. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
12 a.m. Lion of the Desert (1981)
3 a.m. The Four Feathers (1939)
5 a.m. Young Winston (1972)

Thursday, July 14 – Arabs as a Subject of Ridicule
8 p.m. Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937) and Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1937)
10 p.m. Road to Morocco (1942) and Sahara Hare (1955)
11:45 p.m. Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955) and Mummy’s Dummies (1948)
1:45 a.m. Arabian Tights (1933)and Little Beau Porky (1964)
2:30 a.m. The Sad Sack (1957)and Hare-Abian Nights (1966)
4:30 a.m. Bowery to Baghdad (1955)

Tuesday, July 19 – Arab Maidens
8 p.m. Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)
10:15 p.m. Dream Wife (1953)
12:15 a.m. Kismet (1944)
2:30 a.m. Chandu the Magician (1932)
3:45 a.m. The Desert Song (1955)

Thursday, July 21 – Arabs as Sheiks
8 p.m. Drums of Africa (1963)
10 p.m. Harum Scarum (1965)
12 a.m. Jewel of the Nile (1985)
2 a.m. Son of the Sheik (1926)
3:30 a.m. The Wind and the Lion (1975)

Tuesday, July 26 – Even-Handed Portrayals
8 p.m. Five Graves to Cairo (1943)
10 p.m. The Black Tent (1956)
12 a.m. Three Kings (1999)
1:30 a.m. King Richard and the Crusaders (1954)
3:30 a.m. Sahara (1943)
5:15 a.m. Bataan (1943)

Thursday, July 28 – Images from Outside Hollywood
8 p.m. Princess Tam Tam (1935)
9:30 p.m. The Band’s Visit (1907)
11:15 p.m. Rana’s Wedding (1903)
1 a.m. Battle of Algiers (1966)
3:15 a.m. Taste of Cherry (1997)

Schedule subject to change.
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Re: TCM Race in Hollywood: Arabs in Cinema for July 2011

Postby Rita Hayworth » May 25th, 2011, 12:34 pm

Moira ... thanks for posting this. Some of these movies that I haven't seen in years. But, most importantly ... thanks for taking the big effort in doing this!

klondike

Re: TCM Race in Hollywood: Arabs in Cinema for July 2011

Postby klondike » May 25th, 2011, 1:10 pm

An ambitious, and in many ways, overdue undertaking, and well worth looking in on, if only to pick & choose among one's prefereneces, and/or get a glimpse of some rarely-seen vehicles.
But I do have a caveat: can someone provide, or confirm a working definition for "Arab", in the practical context that is intended here by TCM?
A resident of Arabia? A native of Northeastern Africa? Anyone of Saharan culture? An adult male descended from North African Moslems? A person whose nation of birth is west of the Red Sea, and borders the Mediterranean on the South? How about a desert-dwelling Egyptian, like a Bedouin? Would a camel-rider qualify, or is this for equestrians only?
Is Klondike obsessed with splitting hairs?
Well, I don't feel like that's true, at least not in this case: most of us are conditioned to summon up images at least resembling Omar Sharif from David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia . . , but I looked for, and found, MGM's magnificent golden-anniversary mini-epic, The Wind & the Lion (a personal fave of mine) on the above playbill, wherein we find the characters of the Berber bandit-chief Raisuli, and his Berber followers, presented accurately as dwelling semi-nomadically in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, dressing in black & the darkest shades of gray & blue, wearing turbans, recognizing no patrilineal authority of sheikdom or caravan economy, speaking amongst themselves the ancient language of Tamazight {a tongue only remotely related to Farsi}, worshipping their own devoutly stark & fundamental form of Islam and taking immense pride in preying on all their neighboring Moroccans . . except maybe for the Tuaregs . . :idea:
That's a pretty far cry from Valentino & Tony Quinn in their white burnooses, pitching their tents amidst the windswept dunes!
[Somebody cue Maria Muldaur . . ]

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Re: TCM Race in Hollywood: Arabs in Cinema for July 2011

Postby kingrat » May 25th, 2011, 5:14 pm

Moira, thanks for posting this. Klondike, I agree about the problems with the definition of "Arab"--not that the historically and geographically challenged would make the necessary distinctions.

As for the puzzling inclusion of Caesar and Cleopatra, the Ptolemaic dynasty was founded by one of Alexander the Great's generals. They were Macedonian, not Egyptian and certainly not Arab.

klondike

Re: TCM Race in Hollywood: Arabs in Cinema for July 2011

Postby klondike » May 25th, 2011, 5:30 pm

Following is proof positive that Hollywood knows how to get it right when it really counts --

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzd2OYdqlh4[/youtube]

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Re: TCM Race in Hollywood: Arabs in Cinema for July 2011

Postby knitwit45 » May 25th, 2011, 5:48 pm

[Somebody cue Maria Muldaur . . ]





[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3tHYb4_bAg[/youtube]

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Re: TCM Race in Hollywood: Arabs in Cinema for July 2011

Postby moira finnie » May 25th, 2011, 7:00 pm

kingrat wrote:Moira, thanks for posting this. Klondike, I agree about the problems with the definition of "Arab"--not that the historically and geographically challenged would make the necessary distinctions.

As for the puzzling inclusion of Caesar and Cleopatra, the Ptolemaic dynasty was founded by one of Alexander the Great's generals. They were Macedonian, not Egyptian and certainly not Arab.

Just as TCM did when examining Native Americans when Inuits were also included under that heading, the general term may be applied a bit liberally, since Egypt is certainly regarded by many people as an Arab nation today, even if it may not have been in Cleopatra's time. I am interested in the logic behind this choice too.
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Re: TCM Race in Hollywood: Arabs in Cinema for July 2011

Postby klondike » May 25th, 2011, 8:42 pm

Well, whatever the rationale for casting so wide a net, TCM has certainly landed a rainbow of good catches for us to dine upon, and no need to wait for Friday . .
Just, remember - right hand only . . 8) :wink: 8)

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Re: TCM Race in Hollywood: Arabs in Cinema for July 2011

Postby MissGoddess » May 26th, 2011, 10:22 am

WHAT??? No THE BLACK STALLION on the line-up? It features the noblest of all "Arab" stars! :D

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4iBp8Q2SGI[/youtube]
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Re: TCM Race in Hollywood: Arabs in Cinema for July 2011

Postby moira finnie » May 26th, 2011, 11:16 am

MissGoddess wrote:WHAT??? No THE BLACK STALLION on the line-up? It features the noblest of all "Arab" stars! :D

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4iBp8Q2SGI[/youtube]

I loved it, Miss G., and hadn't seen The Black Stallion before the other night since I went to the movies to catch it years ago, (it was glorious on the big screen).

If they are going to look at portraits of Arab people (and stallions like The Black) through a Western lens, I would also like to see Cecil B. DeMille's The Crusades (1935) with Ian Keith as Saladin (threatening the virtue of Loretta Young) and lots more of Omar Sharif in films such as Monsieur Ibraham (2003) and Hidalgo (2004). The latter features some remarkable horses too.

One film I am looking forward to seeing again is King Richard and the Crusaders (1954) because, as I recall, Rex Harrison as Saladin stole the movie. Has anyone seen Kingdom of Heaven (2005) about the Crusades, which got very mixed reviews?
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Re: TCM Race in Hollywood: Arabs in Cinema for July 2011

Postby MissGoddess » May 26th, 2011, 12:57 pm

Rex Harrison as Saladin sounds worth the price of admission alone. I've never heard of that movie before.

I meant to add I did like Monsieur Ibrahim, a very touching story.
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Re: TCM Race in Hollywood: Arabs in Cinema for July 2011

Postby klondike » May 26th, 2011, 1:42 pm

Hidalgo was indeed an underheralded feast, Moira - easily one of my best rental "gambles" in the last 5 or 6 years!
One thing I particularly liked about that movie was its excellently researched, and carefully depicted distinctions between the different nationalities & cultures of Saharan Africa, much like we got into discussing right here in this thread! :idea:

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Re: TCM Race and Hollywood: Arab Images on Film

Postby moira finnie » July 8th, 2011, 12:26 pm

Is anyone enjoying this event on TCM?

Here's a link to the entire rundown of films being warmed up for the month, with background on each film :
Race & Hollywood: Arab Images in FilmTuesdays & Thursdays in July

So far, I think that the avuncular Prof. Jack Shaheen is a real charmer, and he is--thank goodness--blessed with a sense of humor and an understanding that the films he is using in this series were made to generate money, not racially motivated hatred--though racism is inherently embedded in the films.

I do sort of long for the sillier movies in this general category, especially those featuring the likes of Maria Montez, Debra Paget, and Yvonne de Carlo shaking their tail feathers and brightening up numerous sand box flicks--though their liberation as women might prove problematic. I know they've looked at Pre-code portrayals of women, but has TCM ever examined female portrayals on film from the POV of feminists? (Talk about your "hot button" issues!). At least we had the vibrant presence of a woman with a mind of her own, Maureen O'Hara, in Sinbad the Sailor (1947) in blazing Technicolor late the other night, (though I don't think that was framed as part of the programming). Below is a glimpse of one of those male fantasies in the deeply silly Arabian Nights (1942) featuring Ms. Montez. If we can turn our brain off and try to think like a 13 year old boy for five minutes, this might be more enjoyable:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7zkmJeVIEI[/youtube]

One quibble:
When introducing the laughable Adventure in Iraq (1943) featuring Patrick Cavanaugh as the Etonian sheik, the lovely John Loder (if only he could act) and Ruth Ford (what a fascinating woman, at least off-screen), Dr. Shaheen mentioned that the film falsely indicated that the Iraqi people were sympathetic to Nazism. While the movie's outlandish portrayal of the people and their beliefs was ludicrous (they made them devil worshippers!), it seemed that because of the complexity of the real history of this connection, the factual roots of this characterization were ignored. Nazi representatives did court the sympathy (and oil) of Middle Eastern people and actively promulgated Anti-Semitism among them, exploiting their understandable resentment toward imperialist powers, as numerous historians have documented. One overview of this attempt can be seen here in University of Maryland history professor Jeffrey Herf's paper on the topic:

http://www.bu.edu/historic/conference08/Herf.pdf

A nice counterpoint to this film might have been The Desert Song (1943-Robert Florey), which took the Romberg-Hammerstein operetta and had Dennis Morgan as the leader of the Riffs opposing Nazi machinations in French Morocco in 1939. This movie might not be possible for broadcast due to some complicated legal issues, which have kept this movie out of circulation for a long time.

This is not to reject Mr. Shaheen's attempt to give a balanced program showing the way that Hollywood depicted Arab characters, but I don't think that a television presentation can really handle that much nuance. Btw, Reel Bad Arabs (2006), the 50 minute documentary based on Prof. Shaheen's book of the same title is on youtube in complete form here:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4157QYY3o4[/youtube]
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Re: TCM Race in Hollywood: Arabs in Cinema for July 2011

Postby intothenitrate » July 8th, 2011, 3:27 pm

moirafinnie wrote:If they are going to look at portraits of Arab people (and stallions like The Black) through a Western lens, I would also like to see Cecil B. DeMille's The Crusades (1935) with Ian Keith as Saladin (threatening the virtue of Loretta Young)...


In the Kevin Brownlow documentary Cecil B. DeMille: An American Epic, DeMille's granddaughter tells the story (with great relish) of how he met with General Nasser of Egypt to discuss filming on location for the film The Ten Commandments. As DeMille was getting warmed up for his pitch, he noticed that everyone in the meeting was smiling. He stopped and asked them what was going on. They said, "Mr. DeMille, we grew up watching The Crusades and we appreciated the way you treated us in that film. You can do whatever you want." I have that film (The Crusades), and Saladin comes off as very gallant, actually. He makes Richard look like the barbarian.
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