The MGM film version of the Broadway musical Kismet was actually the fourth treatment of Edward Knoblock's 1911 play about a Baghdad beggar who becomes Emir for a day, following a 1929 silent version, a 1930 early talkie, and a 1944 remake starring Ronald Coleman. Songwriters Robert Wright and George Forrest, experienced Hollywood hands, had adapted the music of 19th century Russian composer Alexander Borodin for their 1953 stage work and scored a hit with Broadway star Alfred Drake and the songs "Stranger in Paradise" and "Baubles, Bangles and Beads." Only two years later, MGM substituted the reliable Howard Keel in the lead role, along with Dolores Gray and Vic Damone as the lovers, and had the result out for Christmas. The soundtrack album, chock ful of fine singing and those Borodin melodies, came out on MGM's own record label in monophonic sound, after which it had a confusing history that mirrored the studio's. In 1965, MGM's discount Metro label reissued it in simulated stereo, cutting the song "Rahadlakum." CBS licensed the soundtrack for a 1990 CD reissue in stereo for the first time. On August 20, 1996, Rhino reissued it in an expanded version that featured all of the music used in the film, in addition to unreleased performances that were recorded at the same sessions, resulting in the best possible presentation of the soundtrack.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder