TCM Explores Depictions of Arabs in Cinema in Latest Installment of Acclaimed Race & Hollywood Initiative

Airing Tuesdays & Thursdays in July

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is preparing to launch Race & Hollywood: Arab Images on Film, a month-long movie event that focuses on the diverse portrayals of Arabs in cinema. Tuesday and Thursday nights in July, TCM host Robert Osborne (below left) will be joined by internationally acclaimed professor, author and Middle East media consultant Dr. Jack G. Shaheen (below right) to introduce a wide range of films and provide extensive insight into Hollywood’s ever-changing attitude toward Arab people.

TCM’s Race & Hollywood: Arab Images on Film is the sixth installment of TCM’s far-reaching and culturally significant Race & Hollywood project, an ongoing exploration of cinematic portrayals of different racial and cultural groups. Each Tuesday and Thursday evening in July will focus on a different topic, including early films, epic stories, depictions of Arab sheiks and Arab women, Arabs portrayed as villains or the subject of ridicule and movies that provide an even-handed look at Arab culture. The series will close on Thursday, July 28, with a night of films made outside Hollywood.

Among the notable works featured in the Arab Images on Film collection are 14 TCM premieres, including the award-winning Gulf War action drama Three Kings (1999), starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube; the romantic comedy-adventure Jewel of the Nile (1985), starring Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas; the Libya-set dramas Lion of the Desert (1981), starring Anthony Quinn; The Black Tent (1956), with Donald Sinden; the adventure films Tarzan the Fearless (1933), with Buster Crabbe; and the silent classic The Sheik (1921), starring Rudolph Valentino. The July lineup will also include David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), Kismet (1944), The Thief of Bagdad (1924) and several animated shorts featuring Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Popeye and other famous characters. A full schedule is included below.

Click HERE to visit the TCM website and learn more about this event. 

Robert Osborne

“TCM is committed not only to preserving and celebrating classic films but also to digging deeper into the events and attitudes that have shaped how Hollywood depicts the world around us,” Osborne said. “With Race & Hollywood: Arab Images on Film, we’re setting out to track the history of Hollywood’s relationship with Arabs in cinema and how it has evolved to where it is today. We hope this series provides a thought-provoking look at a very timely and important topic.”

Dr. Jack Shaheen

In his book Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, Dr. Shaheen writes, “When colleagues ask whether today’s reel Arabs are more stereotypical than yesteryear’s, I can’t say the celluloid Arab has changed. He is what he has always been – the cultural ‘other.’ Arabs have too often been viewed as backward, barbaric and dangerously different through Hollywood’s distorted lens. Unfortunately, these stereotypes are now deeply ingrained in American cinema.”

As Shaheen points out, not all cinematic portrayals of Arabs are negative. “While it is true that some filmmakers have vilified the Arabs, others have not,” he writes. “Some contested harmful stereotypes, displaying positive images – that is, casting an Arab as a regular person…to paraphrase an Arab proverb, Eed wahdehm a fiha tza’if, one hand alone cannot clap. Believe me, by working together, we will shatter the stereotype.”

Dr. Shaheen is the world’s foremost authority on images of Arabs and Muslims in American popular culture. He is the author of several award-winning books, including Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People and, most recently, Guilty: Hollywood’s Verdict on Arabs after 9/11, which was named Book of the Year by ForeWord magazine. Shaheen is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar with New York University and a former news consultant on Middle Eastern affairs for CBS News. He regularly appears on national programs such as Nightline, Good Morning America, 48 Hours and The Today Show. Shaheen regularly serves as a consultant with television and motion picture companies, including Warner Bros., DreamWorks, Hanna-Barbera and Showtime. He also consulted on the George Clooney films Three Kings (1999) and Syriana (2005).

Click HERE and HERE to learn more about Dr. Shaheen's research.

Past editions of TCM’s Race and Hollywood film series explored how Hollywood has portrayed such groups as African-Americans (2006), Asians (2008), Latinos (2009) and Native Americans (2010). In addition, TCM examined Hollywood’s depiction of gay characters and themes in 2007.

About Turner Classic Movies (TCM)

Turner Classic Movies is a Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world. Currently seen in more than 85 million homes, TCM features the insights of veteran primetime host Robert Osborne and weekend daytime host Ben Mankiewicz, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests. As the foremost authority in classic films, TCM offers critically acclaimed original documentaries and specials, along with regular programming events that include The Essentials, 31 Days of Oscar and Summer Under the Stars. TCM also stages special events and screenings, such as the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood; produces a wide range of media about classic film, including books and DVDs; and hosts a wealth of materials at its Web site, TCM is part of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company.

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Race & Hollywood: Arab Images on Film
Full Schedule

The Sheik (1921)

The following is a complete schedule of TCM’s Race & Hollywood: Arab Images on Film. Films in bold are making their TCM debut. All times shown are Eastern.

Tuesday, July 5 – Early Images

  • 8 p.m. The Sea Hawk (1924)
  • 10:30 p.m. The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
  • 1 a.m. The Sheik (1921)
  • 2:30 a.m. Tarzan the Fearless (1933)
  • 3:45 a.m. The Lost Patrol (1934)

Thursday, July 7 – Arabs as Villains

  • 8 p.m. Adventure in Iraq (1943)
  • 9:30 p.m. Action in Arabia (1944)
  • 11 p.m. Sirocco (1951)
  • 1 a.m. Trunk to Cairo (1966)
  • 3:30 a.m. Sinbad the Sailor (1947)
Lion of the Desert (1981)

Tuesday, July 12 – Epics

  • 8 p.m. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  • 12 a.m. Lion of the Desert (1981)
  • 3 a.m. The Four Feathers (1939)
  • 5 a.m. Young Winston (1972)

Thursday, July 14 – Arabs as a Subject of Ridicule

  • 8 p.m. Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937) and Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1937)
  • 10 p.m. Road to Morocco (1942) and Sahara Hare (1955)
  • 11:45 p.m. Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1955) and Mummy’s Dummies (1948)
  • 1:45 a.m. Arabian Tights (1933)and Little Beau Porky (1964)
  • 2:30 a.m. The Sad Sack (1957)and Hare-Abian Nights (1966)
  • 4:30 a.m. Bowery to Baghdad (1955)

Tuesday, July 19 – Arab Maidens

  • 8 p.m. Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)
  • 10:15 p.m. Dream Wife (1953)
  • 12:15 a.m. Kismet (1944)
  • 2:30 a.m. Chandu the Magician (1932)
  • 3:45 a.m. The Desert Song (1955)

Thursday, July 21 – Arabs as Sheiks

  • 8 p.m. Drums of Africa (1963)
  • 10 p.m. Harum Scarum (1965)
  • 12 a.m. Jewel of the Nile (1985)
  • 2 a.m. Son of the Sheik (1926)
  • 3:30 a.m. The Wind and the Lion (1975)

Tuesday, July 26 – Even-Handed Portrayals

  • 8 p.m. Five Graves to Cairo (1943)
  • 10 p.m. The Black Tent (1956)
  • 12 a.m. Three Kings (1999)
  • 1:30 a.m. King Richard and the Crusaders (1954)
  • 3:30 a.m. Sahara (1943)
  • 5:15 a.m. Bataan (1943)

Thursday, July 28 – Images from Outside Hollywood

  • 8 p.m. Princess Tam Tam (1935)
  • 9:30 p.m. The Band’s Visit (2007)
  • 11:15 p.m. Rana’s Wedding (2002)
  • 1 a.m. Battle of Algiers (1966)
  • 3:15 a.m. Taste of Cherry (1997)
  • Schedule subject to change.

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