They're having an interesting (and very intelligent!) discussion of Jane Austen, especially Emma, over at Risky Regencies, and here I am revealing my inner cheesiness talking about bad movies. Oh, well, it can't be helped--it's the start of a holiday weekend and I'm in desperate need of some fun. :)
Kay has reminded me of something we enjoyed back in high school, a made-for-TV movie that recalls the Cartland movies for sheer cornball delightfulness--HAREM. It stars Nancy Travis as a free-spirited American-Englishwoman, in about 1905ish. She goes to some unspecified Middle Eastern country with her father (some kind of scholar or collector) and her stuffy Brit fiance played by Julian Sands (of the wonderful bare-butt scene in Room With a View--distinctly less fun here). There she goes off into the desert on some harebrained adventure, even though (of course) everyone warns her not to. Predictably, she's captured by a gang of rebels.
The main rebel is played by an actor whose name escapes me, but he was in Jewel in the Crown. Anyway, this guy sells our heroine into the sultan's harem. Sultan is played by Omar Sharif (FAR from Dr. Zhivago). There are lots of scenes of gorgeous, pseudo-Moorish architecture, elaborate costumes, a eunuch or two, lots of sensual baths with floating rose petals, and the sultan's evil #1 wife, played by Ava Gardner (yes! Ava Gardner).
Then the plot thickens. Our hero goes to stuffy Brit fiance and offers to rescue heroine (who HE sold in the first place!) from the sultan--for a price. Evidently, it's pricey being a dashing revolutinary out to bring down Dr. Zhivago's corrupt regime. He pretends to be a eunuch, sneaks into the harem, and much scheming and double-crossing occurs. They fall in love (after a lot of arguing and bickering--hey, love is tough, especially when you start out a relationship by, er, selling your love object into slavery). She almost gets killed after being set up by Ava Gardner, HE almost gets killed, there's a daring raid on the palace... Oh, you get the picture.
Anyway, I LOVED this movie! Loved it. I don't know if it's available out there anywhere, but if you can find it it's a hoot.