The Caliph (Donald Randolph), Hadji Baba (John Derek)
and Princess Fawzia (Elaine Stewart).
Persian adventure made into Hollywood film
By Darius Kadivar
March 7, 2001
In the early 50's Hollywood director Don Weis was inspired by the main
character in the classic novel, "The Adventures of Hadji Baba",
written by 19th century British Ambassador to Persia, James Morier. Weis
decided to adapt the story for the silver screen. He chose John Derek,
the Leonardo Di Caprio of his time, to play the lead role, along with Elaine
Stewart, and Paul Picerni.
The plot goes something like this. Hadji Baba decides to leave Isfahan
in order to lead his own life. Meanwhile, Princess Fawzia (Elaine Stewart)
refuses to marry Ahmed Khan, imposed on her by her father, the Calif (Donald
Randolph). She loves Nur-El-Din (Paul Picerni).
The Caliph warns her daughter that Nur-El-Din
is not a good man. However, Fawzia, listens only to her heart and leaves
the palace disguised as a man. The princess meets Hadji Baba. He accepts
to help find her beloved Nur-El -Din in exchange for a substantial amount
Together they join the caravan of a merchant, Osman Aga. However, the
Caliph's guards arrest Hadji Baba and the princess. But they all end up
being kidnapped by Turkman women. Suddenly, Fawzia reveals that she is
now, in fact, in love with Hadji.
In the meantime, Nur-El-Din and his henchmen are able to free Fawzia
and Hadji. But Nur-El-Din considers Hadji as a potential rival and decides
to get rid of him. Hadji manages to escape his predicament. Fawzia discovers
that Nur-El-Din is nothing but a big flirt, driven by ambitions of glory
and conquest. Hadji Baba then battles with Nur-El-Din, who...
All's well that ends well: Fawzia and Hadji Baba get married. The moral
of the story is clear. Love can break social conventions and barriers.
The film was shot in Deluxe Color-Cinemascope
by Don Weis in (1954). It is a joy to watch and it has some great lines.
"I carry the instruments of a barber, but the desires of a prince,"
claims Hadji Baba proudly, while Nat King Cole sings "Hadji, Hadji,
Hadji, Hadji Baba ".
John Derek (future husband of Bo Derek, and director of her films, including
"10"), was only 17 when he played the role of Hadji Baba. With
his lighthearted spirit and good looks, he was ready to conquer women's
Paul Picerni did a great job playing mister-bad-guy Nur-El-Din. Interestingly,
his performance got the attention of TV producers who hired him as an assistant
to Elliot Ness (Robert Stack) in the "The Untouchables".