Plot: Hajji (John Derek) hears all kinds of tales of adventure, stories in which men seek out fame, fortune, and a legend for themselves. He has a stable life, working in his father’s shop, but the promise of a more fulfilling, exciting lifestyle calls to him, so Hajji plans to seek out his destiny in the wide world. The warnings of dangers of all kinds don’t hamper his intentions, so he leaves the safety of the inner city, with adventure on his mind. At the same time, Princess Fawzia (Elaine Stevens) has an escape plan of her own, to evade an arranged marriage and seek out her desired suitor. Hajji runs into her escort and winds up in a tussle, which leads to Fawzia mistaking him for the man who is to assist her on her trek. The two get off to a rough start, but soon Hajji agrees to escort her to the secret wedding. As this odd couple sets off for grand adventure, what kind of dangers and spectacle await?
Entertainment Value: The Adventures of Hajji Baba is a fun one, a mix of b movie, romantic comedy, and adventure epic, though the budget involved doesn’t allow for the sheer scale the latter requires. But while the scale is limited, you can tell a lot of effort went into making the most of the resources involved, which yields some fun scenes and beautiful visuals. The narrative is fine and allows for a nice variety of encounters, but is driven by our two leads above all else. So this has some b movie vibes and action at times, but the romantic thread is at the film’s core. But even if you aren’t a big fan of romantic films, Hajji Baba keeps an effective balance of emotion, humor, and action, so it doesn’t feel sappy or forced. The banter between the leads is fun and the gradual bond develops in a believable fashion. At the same time, don’t expect a consistent flow of swords and action, as those scenes are infrequent and the movie overall is grounded, pushed by the romantic narrative. The production design is solid, with good locations, costumes, and set elements, though the ridiculous theme song might elicit more chuckles than expected. I had fun with The Adventures of Hajji Baba, so I give it a solid recommendation, especially to old school romance devotees.
This movie boasts a solid cast and as I mentioned before, the two leads drive the film and needed great chemistry to make it work. John Derek brings his screen idol presence and while his performance isn’t that remarkable, he lights up the screen and as usual, is a good romantic lead. His approach is light and that works well, though he isn’t that effective in the more dramatic moments. But he is handsome and a believable love interest, as well as having such impressive screen presence, so I think he does all he could with this material. He and Elaine Stewart are able to convey the rough riding romance that slowly smooths out, with both palpable chemistry and some really fun banter. If these two couldn’t make the romance thread work, the entire film would have suffered, but thankfully, they deliver. The other performances can be be a little over the top, but that is fine given the b movie vibes involved and who doesn’t love a tribe of dialed up Amazons? The cast also includes Donald Randolph, Amanda Blake, and Rosemarie Stack.
The Disc: The movie has been given the Blu-ray treatment by Twilight Time, who as usual, provide a rock solid visual presentation. The film has some impressive visuals and they shine in this release, especially the colors, which are bright and bold. I think the rich colors might be enough to lure in those who long for the old school visuals of film, as the hues are remarkable here. The print is clean and the detail levels are good, so you will know this is a high definition release. The extras include an isolated music & effects track, as well as the film’s trailer.
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