FLIRTATION OF GIRLS (1949)

The first movie in P.F.A.'s Music on the Nile:  Fifty Years of Egyptian Musical Films and just a knockout.  I also enjoyed seeing a movie where so many guys were wearing fezzes. It was really quite cool.   But The Flirtation of Girls possesses so many charms as to be almost indescribable.

Layla Murad plays the Pasad's daughter (named Layla), a young charming woman who just wants to have a good time. It is rough, rough, rough to find movies for a 50 year old Egyptian film on the Net.Unfortunately, she's failed her test in Arabic Languages and her father hires a down on his luck teacher (Hamman, played by the astounding Naguib al-Rahani) to teach her.  al-Rahani's wit and haplessness is no match for Layla's charm and flirtation.  Through a number of wry, charming musical numbers, Layla woos Hamman into seeing the wonders of the world and, of course, falling in love with her.   Sadly, Layla's interest in Hamman is only in teasing and twisting him around; she in turn is madly in love with a club-hopping sharpster, who's only interested in her money.

Wit, charm, an excellent cast and particularly an excellent script hurtle Flirtation of Girls to the top of my list.  Whether bowing to everyone in the palace but the Pasad, and then getting in a fight with the one person he shouldn't, al-Rahani is a comic delight.blustering through any situation (Hamman's mix of his fatalism, haughtiness, intelligence and haplessness reminded me of Shakespeare's Malvolio, although Hamman is a million times more sympathetic).  Another great thing is that although Hamman is clearly purely in love with Layla, it's no guarantee that he ends up with her at the end.   The discovery of true love is basically enough.  As Hamman says near the end, "When I fell in love with you, I fell in love with life again."

Witty and wise, The Flirtation of Girls is one of those great revivifying films.  Like Hamman, by falling in love with it, I am much more alive than I was before I saw it.  I still have another three weeks of Sundays to check out this series, so there's a lot more for me to see.  But I can't imagine many films being able to top the charms of this one.

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All written material on these pages is © 1999 by Jeff Lester. With the exception of non-profit distribution, all other rights are reserved.