I watched it tonight. The soundtrack is full and lush. It's miles ahead from the superb CD soundtrack that came out many years ago. Haven't actually seen the film since the 90s. I noticed a lot of variances between the film score and the soundtrack CD. I wonder if the soundtrack CD was a rerecording for home audio? On the CD the prince makes a nice dip when he sings "...a stranger...no more..."
Also, Keel sings "...for fate has found its child and smiled on me..." while in the movie it's "...for fate has claimed its child.."
Also, in the extras, the intro section for Radhadlakum is totally different from what you hear on the CD. I think that outtake was probably taken from a work print and you hear the bit players' actual voices, whereas those voices were dubbed over for the soundtrack. But anyway, the blu-ray soundtrack is probably the best I've heard from the 50s. It sounds...brand...new.
All Eastman widescreen pictures from this time look a little stretchy to me...people's faces look a little wide. Is that just a Cinemascope quirk? The colors are bright and amazing but the film overall looks a little dim and muddy. But again--all Eastman flicks from this time look that way to me. The color values on the brighter costumes pop so much they almost look like Technicolor. Whatever's going on here, they did a good job.
I don't know why this film doesn't have a better reputation. It's one of those rare Broadway musical comedies that's actually funny. I remember the first I saw it, thinking that Keel's character got himself into and out of scrapes quicker than Bugs Bunny. As quick-witted, too. Very enjoyable. I do note that as an early Cinemascope film, they may have been spending so much time exploiting that new toy that they didn't figure out the script and the relationships very well. And again, people in this thread were saying Minnelli didn't really want to do it. The film lacks a little fire. It plays out properly, but it needs a little more juice. When it needs to move, it does, but the rest of the time it looks like dozens of people standing around doing nothing. This can denote a lack of interest on the part of the director. I don't know...I give it a 3.8 out of 5 when comparing it to the greatest of MGM musicals (probably only Wizard of Oz and Singin' in the Rain would get a 5 from me).
I think some people freak out because it supposedly takes place in the Middle East. They talk about Islam, but this isn't a historical film. I seriously doubt anyone involved in this thing ever intended its setting to be anything other than a fantasy Arabian Knights type of thing. It's easy to see that Kismet is Disney's Aladdin's closest antecedent; even the colors and set designs look the same.