Those ever opportunistic Italians cranked out scores of Medieval sex comedies in the wake of Pier Paolo Pasolini's The Decameron (1970) and The Canterbury Tales (1971). Cashing in on the famed auteur's third erotic opus Arabian Nights (1973), veteran genre-hopper Antonio Margheriti made this lavish oriental romp featuring a starrier cast of Euro sex kittens. In our framing story, powerful sultan Al Mahmoun humiliated when unable to make love to his exquisite new harem girl Zumurud (Femi Benussi), even after she performs a scorching dance of the seven veils. His viziers summon storytellers, each of whom recounts a steamy tale hoping to raise the sultan's ardour or else be beheaded.
First up an old man tells the story of sultan Samandar (Pupo De Luca) who learns from his magic mirror he has been usurped as "the greatest lover in town" by the handsome Abuize, who brags he can identify any townswoman in the dark from the way they make love alone. In a fit of jealousy, Samandar challenges Abuize to make good on his boast by laying in a darkened room and identifying each of the many beautiful girls he sends in to have sex with him. Should he succeed he'll win ten-thousand gold coins, but if he fails it's the axe. All goes exceptionally well for inexhaustible Abuize, whereupon the sultan rashly decides to send his lovely wife in there, theorizing he'll have the perfect excuse to behead the stud whether he recognises her or does not. Things don't exactly go according to plan.
Next comes the story of Aladdin (Gino Milli) whose sweetheart Miriam (Barbara Bouchet) has been forced to marry a wealthy, but elderly merchant. Aladdin retrieves the Genie (Gigi Ballista) from the magic lamp, who gives him a potion of invisibility and a flying carpet that will only land after its passengers make love three times. Thus Aladdin is able to indulge nightly bouts of airborne lovemaking with his beloved Miriam. Unfortunately, one night things go badly awry when the merchant stumbles onto the carpet by mistake. Aladdin and the old man are stranded in the sky, however will they get back down? Well...
Lastly, a sultry lady storyteller holds Al Mahmoun and Zumurud spellbound with the story of gorgeous Princess Aiza (Barbara Marzano), who has sworn she will only marry a man who makes love to her thirteen times from dusk till dawn. The town graveyard is stuffed with the corpses of all those who failed, but swarthy stud Raji El Malouk proves (literally) up for the challenge. All he asks is a break between "rounds" to climb a tree and fuel himself with some fruit. Energised by fructose Raji goes twenty-three rounds with the insatiable Aiza. He even sneaks in a couple of quickies with some sexy slave girls before the cock crows, but there is a twist in this tale...
Detractors label Antonio Margheriti a less distinctive filmmaker than his contemporaries Mario Bava and Lucio Fulci, but where they sometimes stumbled outside horror movies he dabbled successfully in many genres and had an undeniable talent for exuberant comic book visuals. This is a sumptuous production with authentic Middle Eastern locations, eye-catching costumes and absolutely stunning sets through which Margheriti glides his scope lens barely absorbing the sheer volume of nubile young flesh.
While Pasolini's so-called "Trilogy of Life" celebrates love as much as lovemaking, the stories told here exclusively concern sexual duplicity, humiliation and thwarted romance. It's sexy of course, but how could it not be with stars like Bouchet, Benussi and Marzano smouldering right through celluloid, yet their characters are largely one-dimensional nymphomaniacs whom the film argues crave male domination and need to be tamed. Though Samandar thoroughly deserves his comeuppance, the payoffs dealt to other characters seem excessively harsh. Pity poor Miriam who not only loses her childhood sweetheart but has her position as the merchant's favourite wife usurped by... Aladdin! And Princess Aziza all too briefly finds her ideal man before the plot reveals her as the victim of an elaborate revenge scam as part of some ill-explained feud. At least she finds sexual solace with her dishy dancing girls, which results in a happy ending of sorts.
Though Barbara Bouchet gives a charming pantomimic performance - and at one point, memorably makes love to thin air - the third episode features the most sustained level of comic invention. It's also the sexiest thanks to some decadent set design in the Princess' boudoir of revolving mirrors and a fervently carnal turn from Barbara Marzano. Too often the screenplay, co-authored by Margheriti, replaces with wit with profanity but this soft-core spaghetti western parody is inspired. Especially Rajih whose every move is styled after Clint Eastwood as the Man with No Name.