Friday, May 15, 2015

Neighborhood Girl [بنت الحتة] (Zahrat El-Ola) - (1946) Egyptian one-sheet

The Neighborhood Girl (1946) - (Zahrat El-Ola) Egyptian one-sheet

Pictured is a 27" x 39" original Egyptian stone litho one-sheet designed by Wahib Fahmy to promote the 1946 Hassan El-Seify 124-minute black-and-white film Neighborhood Girl [bint el-hetta], sometimes also translated as The Girl Next Door, starring Zahrat El-Ola, based on story, screenplay and dialogue by Mahmoud Ismail with cinematography by Mostafa Hassan. This intricate film about life in a Cairo neighborhood is filmed entirely on a studio sound stage and its story, dialogue and screenplay are all the imaginative work of Mahmoud Ismail, who also plays the part of the scheming Zaki al-Fayoumi. The sound stage does not do a good job of showing the loud and chaotic character of a lower class Cairo neighborhood, but that is not its purpose. Ismail wants to present a psychological tapestry showing interaction and conflict among people in difficult circumstances trying to satisfy social and financial needs in various legitimate and illegitimate ways. This early example of Egyptian social realism also features two classic performances by the great dancer Samia Gamal in her role as Zaki al-Fayoumi's collaborator.

Plot summary: Ekhlas [Zahrat El-Ola] is a university student and her brother Salim [Ahmed Ramzi] is unemployed. Her mother [Zouzou Nabil] is a domineering wife and her father [Ahmed Al Gaziri] is a man with a weak personality who sells animal feed. Omar [Shukry Sarhan] owns a dairy shop, but has stopped working to help his blind mother [Aziza Helmy] care for his sisters. Zaki al-Fayoumi [Mahmoud Ismail] is a tyrant who runs a criminal gang. His trusted assistant is Hambaka [Tewfik El Dekn]; the beautiful and charming dancer Hosnia [Samia Gamal] is another of his collaborators. Ekhlas loves Omar, who persuades her to marry him, but Zaki Al-Fayoumi also loves her and wants to marry her somehow. To this end he exploits her mother's greed and her unemployed brother Selim's financial condition. He employs Selim at a big salary and arranges a marriage between him and Hosnia in exchange for the right to marry Selim's sister. Ekhlas goes along with the wishes of her mother and brother and agrees to an engagement with Zaki in return for being allowed to complete her studies at the university, but this does not settle the question of who will marry Ekhlas. Hambaka hires Ganzir [Hassan Hosni] and Farkasha [Ahmed Abaza] to kill Omar to get him away from Ekhlas, but they only injure him. Then they tell Ekhlas to break off her engagement to Zaki and agree to marry Omar after he is cured and leaves the hospital. On other side, to neutralize Omar as his rival Zaki orders Selim to plant a package of hashish in a cupboard belonging to Omar, who is then arrested and put in prison. Selim has an awakening of conscience and feels he committed a great sin in submitting to Zaki. Ekhlas feels her brother Selim has had a hand in the planting of the hashish and tells this to her attorney [Anwar Madkour]. The attorney hires special investigator Labib [George Sidhum] to follow Selim. When Zaki senses that Selim is no longer loyal to him, he asks Hosnia to poison his drink while they are in a bar, but in a dramatic intervention the investigator Labib sitting nearby jumps up and warns Selim not to drink it. In a ruse, Ekhlas claims she loves Zaki and wants to marry him. Omar escapes from prison seeking to prove his innocence. Hambaka and Zaki go to the police and confess everything, while Selim confesses to planting the hashish. They all gather at Zaki's home where the police rescue Ekhlas. A police officer [Mokhtar Al Sayed] shoots and kills Zaki, Hosnia is killed by her former lover, Ekhlas's mother goes crazy and Omar's innocence is proven although he is given a six-month suspended sentence for breaking out of prison.

Cast and crew: Samia Gamal, Shukry Sarhan, Ahmed Ramzy, Mahmoud Ismail, Mostafa Hassan, Zahrat El-Ola, Hassan El-Seify, Zouzou Nabil, Aziza Helmy, Mahmoud Farag, Anwar Madkour, Abdel Mohsen Seleem, Ahmed Abaza, Ahmed Al Gaziri, Hassan Hosni, George Sidhum, Mokhtar El Sayed

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