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Abdul the Damned
IMDB Rating: 6.6/10 from 49 votes
Release: 24 April 1936 (Netherlands) /

Abdul the Damned

Genre: Drama, History
Director: Karl Grune,
Stars: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: In 1908, Sultan Abdul Hamid rules the Turkish Empire, but he is faced with the threat of revolt by the Young Turk party. He allows Hilmi Pasha, the leader of the Young Turks, to return from exile and form the country's first constitutional government. With tensions still growing, chief of police Kadar Pasha assassinates Hassan Bey, the leader of the Old Turk party, and makes it look as if a Young Turk committed the crime, in order to give Abdul an excuse for arresting the Young Turk leaders. Meanwhile, Abdul becomes infatuated with a visiting Austrian singer. When she rejects his advances, she endangers both herself and her fiancé, a Turkish officer who also knows who really shot Hassan Bey. Written by Snow Leopard

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Critic Reviews


Abdul Hamid was the sultan of Turkey at the turn of the century. A dozen sultans before him had been murdered for political reasons. He lives in such fear of assassination that his chief of the secret police, Nils Asther (in an unusually menacing role), "removes" anyone who could possibly be a threat. Along comes Adrienne Ames as the star of a touring British musical. The sultan takes one look at her and falls in love. She won't give him the time of day. The chief of police has her fiancé arrested on a pretext and threatened with execution to "encourage" her to enter the sultan's harem (which interestingly and politically correctly contain women from every possible race: Black, European, Jewish, etc.). She agrees. Most of the film is concerned with the political machinations of the sultan and the chief of police. It's a political thriller and from that POV was quite ahead of its time. But it's a fascinating film in its own right. Not only because of Fritz Kortner and Nil Asther, but because of the fine acting by Eric Portman, Patrick Knowles, Esme Percy as the chief eunuch, and a brief but forceful appearance by George Zucco as the Captain of the firing squad. Added to all of this is an excellent musical score (with a rare filmed glimpse of a 1930's English musical production), brilliant editing and cinematography that will remind you of the German Expressionism movement------much of the crew, director, cinematographer, etc. were German immigrants. The film has as German a feel as SUNRISE. If you get a chance to see it, do. It's a favorite of mine.

Jay Fenton

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