Magicians and caliphs, poets and lovers, all involved in Arabian Nights-style romantic intrigues: the ideal material, one would have thought, for a full-blown exotic musical. But despite the ripe melodies borrowed from Borodin and the expensively luscious sets, it never really takes off, thanks partly to a less than top-notch cast, partly to Minnelli's often indifferent direction. Minnelli himself has commented: 'Arthur (Freed) had already asked me to direct the picture, but I didn't relate to it, and declined. Now I was being asked again (by Dore Schary), and the implication was that I wouldn't get the Van Gogh picture (Lust for Life) if I didn't direct Kismet. I capitulated...'