It takes an analytical lunacy to render Mallarmťís "age that has outlived beauty," it takes somebody acquainted with The Three Stooges and Abbott and Costello to serve up such corruscating allegories. It kicks off on the silenced guns of the Civil War, Virginia in 1865 with General Lee himself plus the Southerner (David Bruce) who turns outlaw and the war correspondent (Rod Cameron) who heads overseas for the next scoop. Then itís an opera house in Berlin, the eponymous odalisque (Yvonne De Carlo) rises onstage out of a scallop shell and gets the Austrian-Prussian War rolling by snuggling with Prince Otto von Bismarck. San Francisco is "a chapter out of the Arabian Nights," but to get there the heroine and her posse must trek through the Wild West and bump into the disillusioned Confederate soldier. The leering count (Albert Dekker) with monocle and rapier, the Russian aesthete (Walter Slezak) giving away Rembrandts, Madam Europe (Marjorie Rambeau) and her hoochie-coochie revue, all "instruments of divine providence" in a Technicolor hallucination of erudite silliness. Between De Mille (The Plainsman) and Sturges (The Beautiful Blonde From Bashful Bend) is Charles Lamontís equable sang-froid and ornate technique, an impish eye that races along with a stagecoach and contemplates a gathering of cowboys humming "O Tannenbaum" under the starry sky. ("What, not romantic enough," the bandit asks his comely captive.) Postwar nihilism conquered by the Eternal Feminine, an irresistible quasi-operetta that transforms an old Chinese sage with a Scottish brogue (Abner Biberman) into a spokesman for the mediumís amalgamated possibilities. With J. Edward Bromfeld, John Litel, and Kurt Katch.
--- Fernando F. Croce