A 1950s musical from the Arthur Freed unit at MGM directed by Vincente Minnelli (with an uncredited assist from Stanley Donen) ought by all conventional wisdom be enshrined. But something went a little bit wrong with this most opulent version of the hoary old Edward Knoblock play. Maybe it was the source material. Or maybe it was Minnelli’s own lack of enthusiasm for the film.
Whatever it was, Kismet has become one of the least revived of all MGM musicals, despite its pedigree and such standards as “Stranger in Paradise” and “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” in its score. To a degree, its neglect is understandable.
The film often misses the mark, partly due to an ill-conceived mix of studio exotica and real location that seem to belong to two different movies; yet it still boasts some great songs, several pleasing performances and the kind of overstated production values that only existed in the days of the studio system. While not a great musical — or an especially good film — Kismet is still very much worth seeing.
— reviewed by Ken Hanke