1001 Arabian Nights (1959 film)

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1001 Arabian Nights
A montage of images, the largest of which at center is of an Arabic teenage boy and girl in royal garments riding atop a similarly dressed up elephant. The top image in the montage features the cartoon character Mr. Magoo, a short elderly man, playing a trumpet next to the text "1001 Wonderful Sights and Sounds". Closer to the bottom of the image is the text: "Columbia Pictures presents a Full-Length UPA Animated Feature: '1001 Arabian Nights' (Technicolor), starring 'The Nearsighted Mr. Magoo.'"
Original theatrical poster
Directed by Jack Kinney
Produced by Stephen Bosustow
Written by Dick Shaw
Dick Kinney
Leo Salkin
Pete Burness
Lew Keller
Ed Nofziger
Ted Allen
Margaret Schneider
Paul Schneider
Based on One Thousand and One Nights
by Czenzi Ormonde
Starring Jim Backus
Kathryn Grant
Dwayne Hickman
Hans Conried
Herschel Bernardi
Alan Reed
Daws Butler
The Clark Sisters
Music by George Duning
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date
  • December 1, 1959 (1959-12-01)
Running time
75 minutes
Country United States
Language English

1001 Arabian Nights is a 1959 American animated comedy film produced by United Productions of America (UPA) and distributed by Columbia Pictures. Released to theaters on December 1, 1959, the film is a loose adaptation of the Arab folktale of "Aladdin" from One Thousand and One Nights, albeit with the addition of UPA's star cartoon character, Mr. Magoo, to the story as Aladdin's uncle, "Abdul Azziz Magoo". It is the first animated feature to be released by Columbia.


In a distant Middle Eastern Kingdom, the young Aladdin lives with his shortsighted and stubborn uncle, Abdul Azziz Magoo, who owns a lamp shop. Believing that Aladdin is growing up to be a lazy and irresponsible man, Magoo encourages Aladdin to get married.

Meanwhile, the wizard Wazir has been siphoning money from the royal treasury and managed to persuade the now bankrupt Sultan to ask his daughter, the Princess Yasminda, to marry the richest man in the land; which now happens to be Wazir.

During a Royal Procession, Aladdin and Yasminda fell in love. In his quest for absolute power, Wazir seeks the genie of magic lamp sealed in a magic cave, and needs Aladdin to get it for him. However, he was unable to obtain the lamp after it fell back into the cave with Aladdin still inside. Aladdin met the genie and escapes the cave with a boxful of treasures. Magoo then takes the treasure to the palace as dowry, and managed to unintentionally spoil Wazir and Yasminda’s wedding with his naivety and shortsighted physical handicap.

The genie conjured a palace and wealth for Aladdin, which is enough to persuade the Sultan to agree to hand Yasminda to him. However, the vengeful Wazir managed to steal the lamp, and the allegiance of the genie, thus exposing Aladdin as a fraud. Aladdin was sent to the scaffolds.

As Wazir kidnap and attempt to woo Yasminda back, the clueless Magoo inadvertently managed to obtain the lamp from Wazir and thus the allegiance of the genie, while also managed to dodge all of Wazir’s attempts to kill him. Wazir fell to his death in his attempt. Only wanting the best for his nephew, Magoo wished for Aladdin and Yasminda to live happily ever after, thus the genie saved Aladdin from execution and the two of them wed.


The film was originally directed by Pete Burness, who was the series director on the popular series of Mr. Magoo theatrical cartoons produced for Columbia by UPA between 1949 and 1959.[1] Disagreements with producer and UPA owner Stephen Bosustow led to Burness resigning and Bosustow recruiting Jack Kinney, the director of many of Disney's Donald Duck cartoons, as the film's new director. [1] The voice of Magoo in the short cartoons, Jim Backus, reprises his role in the feature, with Katheryn Grant, the singer/actress wife of Bing Crosby, as the voice of Princess Yasminda and Dwayne Hickman, from TV's The Bob Cummings Show and The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, as the voice of Aladdin.[2]

1001 Arabian Nights was the first full-length feature produced by UPA,[1] a studio which had revolutionized animation during the 1950s by incorporating design and limited animation.[3] The film was not a box-office success, and was UPA's final release through Columbia, which had ended its distribution for the UPA short subjects in favor of lower-cost Loopy De Loop cartoons from Hanna-Barbera Productions.[4] Following the film's release, Bousustow sold UPA to Henry G. Saperstein, who moved the studio into television production and a second feature production, Gay Purr-ee, before closing the animation studio and moving UPA on to other ventures.[1]

Voice cast[edit]

Home media[edit]

1001 Arabian Nights was released on VHS videocassette by RCA/Columbia Pictures Home Video in 1985. It was released on DVD in 2011 as a manufactured on demand release from the Sony Pictures Choice Collection, now available through the Warner Archive.

In 2014, 1001 Arabian Nights was included as disc four of the four-disc DVD boxed set Mr. Magoo- The Theatrical Collection: 1949-1959 from Shout! Factory.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Maltin, Leonard (1987). Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons. New American Library. pp. 341–342. ISBN 0-452-25993-2. 
  2. ^ Shostak, Stu (02-27-2007). "Interview with Dwayne Hickman and Joan Roberts Hickman". Stu's Show. Retrieved 08-22-2013.
  3. ^ Maltin, Leonard (1987). Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons. New American Library. pp. 323, 329–341. ISBN 0-452-25993-2. 
  4. ^ Barrier, Michael (1999). Hollywood Cartoons. New York: Oxford University Press. Pg. 563-565. ISBN 0-19-516729-5.
  5. ^ Galbraith, Stewart IV (22 April 2014). "Review of "'Mr. Magoo- The Theatrical Collection: 1949-1959"". DVD Talk. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 

External links[edit]