|Genre: Action & Adventure, Classics, Drama|
Directed By: Archie Mayo
Written By: Robert E. Sherwood
In Theaters: 1 Jan. 1938
On Disc/Streaming: 22 May 2007
Runtime: 100 minutes
Studio: United Artists
Budget: $2 million
Gary Cooper as Marco Polo
Sigrid Gurie as Princess Kukachin
Basil Rathbone as Ahmed
George Barbier as Kublai Khan
Binnie Barnes as Nazama
Ernest Truex as Binguccio
Alan Hale as Kaidu
H.B. Warner as Chen Tsu
Robert Greig as Chamberlain
Ferdinand Gottschalk as Persian Ambassador
Henry Kolker as Nicolo Polo
Lotus Liu as Visakha
Stanley Fields as Bayan
Harold Huber as Toctai
Lana Turner as Nazama’s Maid
“The Adventures of Marco Polo” is a 1938 drama-adventure genre film, and one of the most elaborate and costly of Samuel Goldwyn’s productions. Nicolo Polo shows treasures from China and sends his son Marco Polo (Gary Cooper) there with his assistant (and comic relief) Binguccio (Ernest Truex).
They sail from Venice, are shipwrecked, and cross the desert of Persia and the mountains of Tibet to China, to seek out Peking and the palace of China’s ruler, Kublai Khan (George Barbier). The philosopher/fireworks-maker Chen Tsu (H. B. Warner) is the first friend they make in the city, and invites them into his home for a meal of spaghetti.
Children explode a fire-cracker, and Marco thinks it could be a weapon. Meanwhile, at the Palace, Ahmed (Basil Rathbone), the Emperor’s adviser, harboring dubious ambitions of his own, convinces Emperor Kublai Khan that his army of a million men can conquer Japan.
Kublai Khan promises Princess Kukachin (Sigrid Gurie) to the King of Persia. Marco, arriving at the palace, sees Kukachin praying for a handsome husband.
Marco is granted an audience with the emperor at the same time as a group of ladies-in-waiting arrive; Kublai Khan lets Marco test the maidens to find out which are the most worthy. Marco tests them all with a question (“How many teeth does a snapping turtle have?”), and he sends off the ones who had incorrectly guessed the answer, as well as those who had told him the correct answer (none), retaining those saying they did not know.
His reasoning behind this is that they are the perfect ladies-in-waiting, not overly intelligent, and honest.
Kublai agrees and Marco immediately becomes a favored guest.
Ahmed shows Marco his private tower with vultures and executes a spy via a trapdoor into a lion pit.
Kukachin tells Marco that she is going to marry the King of Persia, but, having fallen in love with her, he shows her what a kiss is.
A guard tells Ahmed, who vows to keep Marco out of the way. Ahmed then advises Kublai Khan to send Marco into the desert to spy on suspected rebels. Kukachin warns Marco of the deceiving Ahmed.
Lana Turner plays Nazama’s maid, a Eurasian handmaiden who had caught the eye of a warrior chief, played by Alan Hale.
Lana enjoyed the glamour and scope of the film, but hated the costumes and her makeup.
You can watch the film here.
Lana Turner did a lot of movies. She really loved being a moviestar.
Here are the most important films in which she starred. Just click the links for more info, photos and videos.
20 April 1937: A Star Is Born
9 Oct. 1937: They Won’t Forget
24 Oct. 1937: The Great Garrick
1 Jan. 1938: The Adventures of Marco Polo
22 July 1938: Love Finds Andy Hardy
12 Aug. 1938: Rich Man, Poor Girl
9 Dec. 1938: Dramatic School
28 April 1939: Calling Dr. Kildare
18 Aug. 1939: These Glamour Girls
29 Sept. 1939: Dancing Co-Ed
19 April 1940: Two Girls on Broadway
19 July 1940: We Who Are Young
25 April 1941: Ziegfeld Girl
12 Aug. 1941: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
2 Oct. 1941: Honky Tonk
18 Febr. 1942: Johnny Eager
27 Aug. 1942: Somewhere I’ll Find You
1 April 1943: Slightly Dangerous
19 Aug. 1943: Du Barry Was A Lady
13 Nov. 1943: The Youngest Profession
23 Aug. 1944: Marriage Is a Private Affair
8 March 1945: Keep Your Powder Dry
1 Oct. 1945: Week-End At The Waldorf
2 May 1946: The Postman Always Rings Twice
5 Nov. 1947 : Green Dolphin Street
1 Nov. 1947: Cass Timberlane
29 April 1948: Homecoming
20 Oct. 1948: The Three Musketeers
1 Sept. 1950: A Life Of Her Own
2 March 1951: Mr. Imperium
5 Sept. 1952: The Merry Widow
25 Dec. 1952: The Bad And The Beautiful
25 Aug. 1953: Latin Lovers
1 May 1954: Flame And The Flesh
7 Sept. 1954: Betrayed
13 May 1955: The Prodigal
4 June 1955: Sea Chase
14 Dec. 1955: The Rains Of Ranchipur
12 Jan. 1956: Diane
13 Dec. 1957: Peyton Place
30 Jan. 1958: The Lady Takes A Flyer
2 May 1958: Another Time, Another Place
30 April 1959: Imitation Of Life
23 June 1960: Portrait In Black
19 July 1961: By Love Possessed
2 Nov. 1961: Bachelor In Paradise
25 Dec. 1962: Who’s Got The Action?
24 Febr. 1965: Love Has Many Faces
27 April 1966: Madame X
30 April 1969: The Big Cube
7 Nov. 1974: Persecution
27 Oct. 1976: Bittersweet Love
31 Oct. 1980: Witches Brew
21 May 1982: Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid
Sources: Wikipedia, IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, Lana’s biography “Lana, the Lady, The Legend, The Truth“, “The Films Of Lana Turner” by Lou Valentino and “Lana Turner, The Memories, The Myths and The Movies” by Cheryl Crane.