Saturday, 31 March 2012

TEN HOT MOVIES! The 1960s Middle East films of Frank Agrama!

Ever seen the early 80s gore non-classic DAWN OF THE MUMMY? Ever wondered to yourself: "Who made this piece of crap?" Adding maybe, "Well, whoever it was, they were completely talentless." A fair guess, but perhaps not altogether correct. As it turns out, that director, Frank Agrama, had a colorful career long before he smeared movie screens with the sub-sub-Fulciesque nonsense of DAWN. Thanks to the efforts of film historian Dr. Robert James Kiss, light is now being shed on Agrama's 1960s moviemaking career in the Middle East. He directed several energetic genre movies in Lebanon, Turkey, Iran and his native Egypt, most of them co-productions between these various countries. In an effort to broaden your psychotronic horizons, we here at the MM Blog proudly reproduce Dr. Kiss' complete Frank Agrama (or Farouk Agrama, his birth name) filmography of the '60s, with attendant ad art and youtube videos to brighten it up a bit.

To start things off here's a compilation of film clips assembled and subtitled by Dr. Kiss.





1)
AL-INAB UL-MURR (1965 Egypt) aka
EL AINAB EL MURR (alternate transliteration of Arabic title) aka
LA RAISON D'AIMER (international sales title) aka
SOUR GRAPES (literal English translation of Arabic title)

Cast (in order of opening credits): Lubna Abd il-Aziz, Ahmad Mazhar, Ahmad Ramzy, Mahmud Mursy, Sana Mazhar, Adil Adham, Abd un-Naby Muhammad, Muhsin Hanin, Abd ul-Munim Busayraty, Abd ul-Hamid Badawy, Bahit us-Sayyid, Husayn Ismail, Himly Halim, Sayfullah Mukhtar.

Produced by Cairo Cinema Company, distributed by Dollar Film (Cairo).
Shot in 1964.
Egyptian general release: March 3, 1965.
Re-released during late 1960s by GECO (General Egyptian Cinema Organization).
Black and white, prints processed at Misr Studio (Cairo).
Running time(s) at 24fps: 102 mins. (surviving version), 95 mins. (original theatrical release, following eliminations by Egyptian censor).

Noir-styled tragic romance about two on-the-run criminals who hide out in a small village.


2)
AL-QAHIRUN (1967 Lebanon/[Iran?]) aka
AL KAHIRUN (alternate transliteration of Arabic title) aka
THE CONQUERORS (international sales title)

Cast (in order of opening credits): Samira Tawfiq, Fahd Bilan, Riyad Ghulmiya, Ibrahim Khan, Kawakib, Nasir Qartanawy, Tammam Ibrahim, Salih Mishlawy, Mahmud Zaghra, Amal Murad, Sabah ul-Umry, Hind Tahir, Widad Jubur, Joseph Abu ut-Tul, and introducting child actress Watfa, with a special appearance by Sayyid ul-Maghriby.
Note: Sayyid ul-Maghriby was billed third (after Samira Tawfiq and Fahd Bilan) in Egyptian advertising materials.

Produced by Edmond Nahas Film (Beirut), distributed in Lebanon by Fawaz Brothers (Beirut) and in Egypt by Cairo Cinema Distribution Co.
Shot in 1966.
Lebanese and Egyptian general release: 1967.
Eastmancolor, prints processed by L.T.C. Laboratories (Paris, France).
Running time(s) at 24fps: 105 mins. (Egyptian theatrical release), 97 mins. (surviving version).
Note: Turkish sources claim the film was partly Iranian-financed.

Violent historical swashbuckler about invading Mongols, stylistically influenced by American westerns.


3)
WADI UL-MAWT (1967 Lebanon/Iran/Jordan) aka
WADI AL MOT (alternate transliteration of Arabic title) aka
MARDY IZ TEHRAN (Iranian title) aka
THAT MAN FROM TEHERAN (international sales title) aka
VALLEY OF DEATH (literal English translation of Arabic title)

Cast (in order of Iranian opening credits): Fardin (=Mohammad Ali Fardin), Fourouzan, Sabah, Kawakib, Samir Lama, Sayyid ul-Maghriby, Tammam Ibrahim.
Note: the Arabic release version contained additional scenes featuring local star Sabah, who was top-billed in advertising materials.

Distributed in Arabic-speaking territories by Petra Film (Amman, Jordan) and in Iran by Hasamian Film and Partner (Tehran).
Shot in 1966.
Lebanese and Iranian general release: 1967.
Egyptian general release: 1968.
Eastmancolor, widescreen.
Running time(s) at 24fps: 100 mins. (Egyptian theatrical release), 90 mins. (Iranian theatrical release), 48 mins. (surviving Iranian 16mm fullscreen version).

Swinging Sixties spy caper, 'a cocktail of sex and adventure' with an all-star international cast.

A page with links to a series of youtube videos showing the complete 48 minute Iranian version of this film can be found here.


4)
WADAAN YA FAQR (1968 Lebanon/Iran/Jordan/[Turkey?]) aka
BAZI-E-ESHGH (Iranian title) aka
BAZY ISHQ (alternate transliteration of Iranian title) aka
AŞK OYUNU (Turkish title) aka
LOVE GAME (international sales title) aka
GAME OF LOVE (University of Washington translation of Iranian title) aka
FAREWELL, POVERTY! (literal English translation of Arabic title)

Cast (in order of Lebanese promotional materials): Fourouzan, Abd us-Salim in-Nabulsy, Nadia Gamal, Taroub, Ibrahim Khan, Amr Zulfiqar, Shafiq Hasan, Malvina Amin, Filiz Akın, Samir Husayn.
Note: the Turkish release version contained additional scenes featuring local star Filiz Akın, who was top-billed in Turkish advertising materials. Filiz Akın and Samir Husayn were billed third and fourth in Iranian advertising materials.

Produced by Aflam ul-Fann (Beirut) and Filmic (Tehran), distributed in Arabic-speaking territories by Petra Film (Beirut, Lebanon and Amman, Jordan).
Shot in 1966/67.
Lebanese and Iranian general release: 1968.
Black and white.
Running time(s) at 24fps: 90 mins. (Iranian theatrical release).

Sexy Swinging Sixties rags-to-riches romantic comedy.

Here's a musical clip from this extremely rare film!



5)
ASIFA ALA AL-BATRA (1968 Lebanon/Iran/Jordan/Italy) aka
ISABAT UL-MUHARRIBIN (Egyptian release title) aka
TOUFAN BAR FARASE PETRA (Iranian title) aka
TOUFAN BAR FARAZ PETRA (alternate transliteration of Iranian title) aka
STORM OVER PETRA (international sales title) aka
STORM ABOVE PETRA (University of Washington translation of Iranian title) aka
GANG OF SMUGGLERS (literal English translation of Egyptian release title)

Cast (in order of Iranian promotional materials): Fardin (=Mohammad Ali Fardin), Peter Groß, Randa, Pooran, Rada Rassimov, Samir Lama, Cristina Iosani, Kawakib, Ibrahim Khan, Abdullah Shammas, Alan Shamin, Philippe Aqiqy, Khalil Nuwairy, Hasan Bint.
Note: Peter Groß is erroneously billed as 'Peter Cross' in English-language promotional materials.

Distributed in Arabic-speaking territories by Nasr Cinema (Amman, Jordan) and in Iran by Hasamian Film and Partner (Tehran).
Shot in 1967.
Lebanese and Iranian general release: 1968.
Technicolor.
Running time(s) at 24fps: 105 mins. (Iranian theatrical release), 92 mins. (Lebanese theatrical release), 80 mins. (Egyptian theatrical release, following eliminations by censor).

Swinging Sixties crime adventure with a desert setting an an international (Euro/Arab/Persian) cast.


6)
NAR UL-HUBB (1968 Lebanon/[Jordan?]/[Egypt?]) aka
FIRE OF LOVE (literal English translation of Arabic title)

Cast (in order of opening credits): Saad Husny, Hasan Yusif, Julia Duww, Philippe Aqiqy, Muhammad ud-Daksh, Mahmud Zariq, Samir Maluf, Salih Mishlawy, Zayn us-Sidany, Samir ul-Ghusayni, Khalil Saliby, Ursula Franke, Layla ush-Shanawy, Muhammad us-Sayyid, Marie Delours.

Produced by Aflam ul-Fann (Beirut), distributed in Arabic-speaking territories by Petra Film (Beirut, Lebanon and Amman, Jordan).
Shot in 1967/68.
Lebanese and Egyptian general release: 1968.
Black and white.
Running time(s) at 24fps: 84 mins. (surviving version).
Note A: the film was declared to have partial Egyptian financing when released in Egypt, thus circumventing local quota regulations.
Note B: the Egyptian censor record for the film was filled out incorrectly with technical details pertaining to an unrelated feature.

Stylised horror thriller inspired by LES DIABOLIQUES (1955).

Here's a youtube of the complete film!


7)
MUGHAMARAT FILFILA (1967/68 Lebanon)
THE ADVENTURES OF FILFILA (literal English translation of Arabic title)

Cast (in order of opening credits): Filfil (the chimpanzee), Sayyid ul-Maghriby, Ursula Franke, Ibrahim Khan, Tammam Ibrahim, Anwar ul-Baba, Shafiq Hasan, Malvina Amin, Fawzy Kiyali, with a guest appearance by Huda al-Jazairiya

Produced by Amil Turkiya Films (Beirut), and seemingly the company's only production.
Shot in 1967/68.
Rejected outright by the Lebanese censor, and seemingly unreleased officially anywhere. It may have circulated in a very limited way on an 'underground' basis.
Black and white.
Running time(s) at 24fps: 69 mins. (surviving version).

The movie presented the tale of Filfil and Filfila, a young couple who are in love and wish to get married --- but Filfila's parents intend to marry their daughter to a wealthy man rather than let her become hitched to down-on-his-luck Filfil. At this point, Filfil enlists the services of a witch, Umm ul-Hiba, who transforms Filfila into a chimpanzee, while supplying Filfil with an antidote to her magic, which will return Filfila to her normal self. Although this initially proves successful, the witch is soon afterwards found dead --- and with her death, Filfila turns back into a chimp! The rest of the movie consists of Filfil and Filfila's quest to restore her human form, comprising visits to conjurers, soothsayers, alchemists, and others.

Here's a subtitled assemblage of highlights from this very rare comedy/fantasy!


8)
ISABAT UN-NISA (1968 Lebanon/Turkey/Egypt) aka
ESSABET EL NISSAE (alternate transliteration of Arabic title) aka
ESSABET EL NISSA (alternate transliteration of Arabic title for French release) aka
BEŞ ATEŞLİ KADIN (Turkish title) aka
5 ATEŞLİ KADIN (alternate rendering of Turkish title) aka
ATEŞLİ DELİKANLI (Turkish vhs retitling) aka
LE GANG DES FEMMES (French subtitled release title) aka
FLOGEROS NEAROS (Greek subtitled vhs title) aka
WOMEN GANG (international sales title) aka
FIVE HOT WOMEN (literal English translation of Turkish title)

Cast (in order of Lebanese opening credits): Sabah, Cüneyt Arkın, Taroub, Sayyid ul-Maghriby, Ismail Yassin, Mayada, Madiha Kamil, Layla Karam, Barlinty Fuad, Amalia Abu Salih, Samir us-Samra, Hülya Darcan, Zayn us-Sidany, Shafiq Hasan, Samir Fawzy, Marcel Hashim, Najla Hashim, Adnan Biyari, Fawzy ul-Kiyaly, Samir ul-Ghusayni, with special guest stars Farid Shawqy, Yusif Wahby, Iyhab Nafi, and Joseph Nanu.
Note A: the Turkish release version removed numerous scenes with Sabah in order to present the film as a Cüneyt Arkın vehicle. The top four credits in the Turkish theatrical edit and in Turkish advertising materials were: Cüneyt Arkın, Hülya Darcan, Taroub, Sabah.
Note B: Egyptian advertising materials favored local stars, altering the top billing order to: Madiha Kamil, Sabah, Mayada, Farid Shawqy, Yusif Wahby, Iyhab Nafi (with no mention whatsoever of Cüneyt Arkın!).

Produced by Sharif Wahid Films (Beirut) and Saner Film (Istanbul), distributed in Lebanon by Sharif Wahid Films, in Turkey by Saner Film, and in Egypt by Muhsin Farhan (Cairo).
Shot in 1968.
Lebanese and Turkish general release: 1968.
Egyptian general release: July 3, 1969.
French limited release (subtitled version): November 8, 1973.
French limited re-release (subtitled version): July 30, 1975.
Eastmancolor, prints processed by Misr Studio (Cairo).
Running time(s) at 24fps: 106 mins. (Lebanese and French theatrical releases), 100 mins. (Egyptian theatrical release, following eliminations by censor), 80 mins. (Turkish theatrical version), 73 mins. (Turkish and Greek vhs versions), 106 mins. (surviving French 16mm version), 97 mins. (surviving Lebanese 35mm version), 106 mins. (Rotana restoration, composite of surviving French and Lebanese prints).
Note: when originally released in Turkey, the film was declared as a Turkish production, with direction credited to Seyfettin Tiryaki, thus circumventing local quota/import regulations. Agrama's directing credit was restored in the opening titles of the Turkish vhs and television edits.

Swinging Sixties crime thriller with a haunted house setting, an all-star international cast, and a genuinely supernatural pay-off.

A video of the complete, shorter Turkish version!


A video of the complete, longer Arabic version!


9)
TARIQ UL-KHATAYA (1969 Lebanon/Iran/Jordan) aka
KHATA KARAN (Iranian title) aka
THE SINFUL PATH (literal English translation of Arabic title)

(S)exploitation melodrama.

Cast (in order of Iranian promotional materials): Aylush, Fariba Khatami, Ismail Yassin, Randa, Kahraman, Ziyyad Malak, Shafiq Hasan, Nayyif Mithlawy, Amal Shawkit, Joseph Nanu, Nasir Qartanawy.

Produced by Aflam ul-Fann (Beirut), distributed in Arabic-speaking territories by Nasr Cinema (Amman, Jordan) and in Iran by Hasamian Film and Partner (Tehran).
Shot in 1968.
Lebanese and Iranian general release: 1969.
Black and white.
Running time(s) at 24fps: 90 mins. (Lebanese and Iranian theatrical releases).
Note: information on this title remains scant, and no prints are known to be available.


10)
LABAT UL-HUZZ (1969 Lebanon/Iran/Jordan) aka
LEBAT EL HAZ (alternate transliteration of Arabic title) aka
BAZY-E-SHANCE (Iranian title) aka
BAZY SHANS (alternate transliteration of Iranian title) aka
ROULETTE (international sales title) aka
GAME OF CHANCE (University of Washington translation of Iranian title)

Cast (in order of Lebanese promotional materials): Fariba Khatami, Ibrahim Khan, Sayyid ul-Maghriby, Butimar (=Abdollah Butimar), Nadia Gamal, Samir Lama, Ali Diyyab, Joseph Nanu, Marcel Marinna.
Note: the Iranian release version, despite its shorter running time, contained additional scenes featuring local stars Abdollah Butimar and Randa. The top-billing order in Iranian promotional sources is: Abdollah Butimar, Fariba Khatami, Randa, Nadia Gamal, Sayyid ul-Maghriby.

Produced by Aflam ul-Fann (Beirut), distributed in Arabic-speaking territories by Nasr Cinema (Amman, Jordan) and in Iran by Hasamian Film and Partner (Tehran).
Shot in 1968.
Lebanese and Iranian general release: 1969.
Black and white.
Running time(s) at 24fps: 100 mins. (Lebanese theatrical release), 90 mins. (Iranian theatrical release).

Swinging Sixties spy caper with an international cast.



Agrama later directed more well-known genre films like the '72 Italian/Turkish co-production THE GODFATHER'S FRIEND starring Richard Harrison and Erica Blanc, the 1976 "Euro-pudding" monster comedy QUEEN KONG, and of course the aforementioned horror disaster DAWN. Agrama's production company Harmony Gold went on to import a series of various anime epics and strung them together under the banner ROBOTECH, a vital part of several 80s American childhoods which will probably stand as Agrama's most important contribution to popular culture. According to his Wikipedia page, Agrama faced tax fraud charges in Italy along with controversial Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in the mid-2000s, in case involving the Mediaset corporation, although the charges were later dropped. Just another colorful chapter in a career that far exceeds the mediocrity of DAWN OF THE MUMMY.

Many thanks are due to Robert Kiss for allowing us to use his filmography. All the information, notes and descriptions are his and are reproduced with his full permission. You can view his original version at the Classic Horror Film Board here. Also, check out his incredible overview of Arabic language film fantastique here.
Special thanks are also due to Jack Jensen of Denmark, whose blog post was what originally hipped me to the wider, weird world of Agrama's 60s work.

5 comments:

  1. How cool! Thanks for posting all of this!

    ReplyDelete
  2. No problem, Scumbalina. Thanks for reading!

    ReplyDelete