Original review featured on the Doha Film Institute website.

Film: Al Ataba El Khadra (Green Ataba)

Director: Fatin Abdel Wahab

Stars: Sabah, Ahmad Mazhar, Ismail Yasseen, Omar Haririr

Running time: 145 mins

In this black and white Egyptian classic, Youssef (Ahmad Mazhar) bumps into a beautiful singer Mona (Sabah) and Mabrook (Ismail Yasseen), a simple man from El-Said. Youssef tries to take advantage of the fact that one is seeking fame (Mona) and the other needs to make money.

Youssef meets Mabrook at the police station and notices he possesses a lot of money. He offers to give him a ride to the hotel, where he bumps into Mona, who is crying in the lobby. She has been kicked out from her room for not paying rent and Youssef offers to help her. He gets her a job singing in one of the largest clubs in Cairo. She climbs the ladder of success quickly but her fame causes ructions with the man she loves. In desperation, she finds herself obliged to become Youssef’s partner in crime. He is trying to sell Mabrook a square parcel of land, the “Green Ataba”, which is owned by the government.

The film is a black and white 1959 delight, combining a unique trio of actors: the handsome Ahmad Mazhar, the diva Sabah and the master of comedy, Ismail Yasseen. The results are often hilarious, with a touch of suspense.

The film is also unpretentious and enjoys a Hollywood ending, where good prevails over evil. The true stars of the film, of course, are Sabah’s beautiful dresses, the grace of her movements and her songs, which still resonate to date. No Egyptian classic is complete without the humor of Ismail Yasseen, his exaggerated movements, his simplicity and clumsiness.

This film is not of one of Sabah’s most memorable performance, but neatly conveys Egyptian cinema at the time. It clearly portrays Egypt’s grandeur and some of the moral questions of the day. The glory of Egypt’s golden ages of cinema is witnessed in every frame.

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