At the dawn of the 19th century, a young French woman is kidnapped and forced into a sultan's harem in Turkey. Fiercely independent, she resists, but must make choices in order to survive. She begins to influence the sultan toward more fair manners of solving his conflicts, but finds herself at odds with another of his wives, who wants her son Mustafa to become the new sultan. As the years pass, she must deal with the new sultan's advances while protecting her adopted son Mahmud, and helping the Sultanate against the Russians who have modern weapons.
I never saw this film. In fact, I never intended to act in it when I was called to the set for a single day as a Military Advisor to organize and choreograph a group of 17th Century French soldiers. The Producers didnt provide me with a script as the military was just background to the main story involving the sale of a French girl into slavery. The evil slave-owner is a sultan of the Turkmen Empire played by F. Murray Abraham.
Turning the extras into credible French soldiers was no problem but the Director was having a hell of a time finding one of them who could speak with a credible French accent and ride a horse at a gallop. He needed these qualities for a small role in which a French Officer gallops into a town to inform the authorities that a woman has been spirited away by the evil Turks. Well, it was a speaking part, I sure knew how to ride a horse and Ive always had an ear for accents. I volunteered my services and got myself cast.
Thats where the comedy begins. The period costume they had for a French Cavalry Officer was ornate to include a pair of above-the-knee fair leather riding boots. We couldnt make the boots stay up on my skinny legs, so they stuffed them with newspaper to simulate the calves I do not have. It worked fine at first. I spurred the horse, galloped under a stone archway, did a flying dismount and began to scream my lines. The soundman yelled cut. He was hearing some weird noises over my dialogue. Sounded like someone wadding up wrapping paper on Christmas morning. It was quickly determined to be my newspaper filled boots.
We eventually solved the problem with rubber bands and double-stick tape, but it was an embarrassing day
and Ive been a little sensitive about wearing shorts ever since.