YANKEE PASHA. Universal International, 1954) Jeff Chandler, Rhonda Fleming, Mamie Van Doren, Lee J. Cobb, Bart Roberts (Rex Reason), Hal March, Tudor Owen, Benny Rubin, Harry Lauter. Based on the novel by Edison Marshall. Directed by Joseph Pevney.


   Arabian Nights nonsense of a fairly high order based on Edison Marshall’s bestselling swashbuckling historical novel of the Barbary Coast and the adventures of an American frontiersman there.

   Jeff Chandler, everybody’s favorite Jewish Apache, stars as Jason Starbuck, a frontiersman and trapper who wants to see the world and gets the chance when he falls for beautiful city girl Rhonda Fleming who is kidnapped by Barbary Pirates and sold into slavery as the property of the cruel head of the Sultan of Morocco’s Janissaries, Aga Omar (Bart Roberts).

   Starbuck infiltrates the Sultan’s (Lee J. Cobb) army teaching his infantry frontier style shooting and quickly runs afoul of the cruel Aga who the Sultan fears and distrusts. He wins Fleming in a bet but is captured trying to escape with her, only to be rescued by Hassan (Hal March), the leader of the Sultan’s infantry who befriended him.

   Chandler is stalwart, Fleming striking (and in at least one of the most revealing outfits of her long film career — body stocking or no), and Mamie Van Doren (below) supplies the comic relief as the slave girl presented to Starbuck and complicating his life and the plot.


   That said, this is the kind of movie where a gaggle of Miss Universe contestants appear as slave girls offered by a drooling slave dealer.

   All in all, a pale shadow of Marshall’s full blooded novel, but good fun and diverting with Chandler buckling a swash and Roberts meeting his well deserved end on the razor sharp hooks meant for those who violate the harem.

   Cobb seems to have a little fun as the Sultan and you may even manage to forget March as the glad-handing playboy and huckster from television if you are old enough to remember him in the first place.

   Marshall was better served by films like Son of Fury, Treasure of the Condor (both based on Benjamin Blake), and The Vikings, but Pevney is an old hand and skillful if yeoman direction gorgeous color, and bright costumes on beautiful women all add to the fun.

   Yankee Pasha is an entertaining entry in a once familiar genre from an era when names like Baghdad, Morocco, and Arabia only brought thoughts of exotic adventure and wild vistas, and the only Marines involved were storming the shores of Tripoli to protect American ships from paying tribute to pirate kings — come to think of it, not all that different from today after all, only the spirit of fun and romance has been replaced with politics, oil, and all too real terrors and atrocities.

Editorial Comment:   Yankee Pasha does not appear to be available on commerical DVD, but there are many collector-to-collector copies to be found on eBay, ioffer.com and the other usual sources. It was shown on AMC at some time in the past; a short clip of a terrific tussle between Mamie Van Doren and Rhonda Fleming can be found here on YouTube.