Author's note: I am grateful to the anonymous IJMES reviewers and the IJMES editors for their invaluable comments and suggestions. Many thanks to the friends and colleagues, especially Robert Aldrich, Nijmeh Hajjar, Rudolf de Jong, and ʿAlla Arraf, who read the article at various stages and helped me think through its ideas.
1 See, e.g., “Awlad al-Dhawat,” Ruz al-Yusuf, 14 September 1931, 17; Fikri Abaza, “Film Awlad al-Dhawat,” al-Ahram, 18 March 1932, 7; and “Film Awlad al-Dhawat ʿala al-Shasha al-Baydaʾ,” al-Hisan, 27 March 1932, 3.
2 For an analysis of economy and industry during this period, see Davis, Eric, Challenging Colonialism: Bank Misr and Egyptian Industrialization, 1920–1941 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1983), esp. 108–68.
3 “Hal Taʿlam?,” al-Kawakib, 2 May 1932, 11.
4 “Maʿlumat Zarifa ʿan Film Awlad al-Dhawat,” al-Kawakib, 28 March 1932, 11.
6 Karim, Muhammad, Mudhakkirat Muhammad Karim: Fi Tarikh al-Sinima al-Misriyya (Cairo: Academy of Arts, 2006), 187.
7 al-Hadari, Ahmad, Tarikh al-Sinima fi Misr: al-Juzʾ al-Awwal min Bidayat 1896 li-Akhir 1930 (Cairo: Nadi al-Sinima, 1989), 284.
8 See, e.g., advertisements in editions of al-Musawwar from 1931, including 16 January 1931, 11.
9 Turner, R. M. A. E. and Larkins, L. B. S., Economic Conditions in Egypt, July 1931 (London: His Majesty's Stationary Office, 1931), 79.
10 Flibbert, Andrew J., Commerce in Culture: States and Markets in the World Film Trade (New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 2007), 175.
11 “The 1938 Film Daily Year Book of Motion Pictures,” Twentieth Annual Edition, The Film Daily, 1938, 1, 207.
12 Bryant, Sara, “Dorothy Arzner's Talkies: Gender, Technologies of Voice, and the Modernist Sensorium,” Modern Fiction Studies 59 (2013): 346.
13 More research needs to be conducted on the aural experiences of movie going in Egypt during the early 1930s. Theoretical considerations on how sound can be excavated from modern Egyptian history have already started. See, e.g., Fahmy, Ziad, “An Earwitness to History: Street Hawkers and Their Calls in Early 20th-Century Egypt,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 48 (2016): 129–34; Fahmy, , “Coming to our Senses: Historcizing Sound and Noise in the Middle East,” History Compass 11 (2013): 305–15.
14 “First 100% Egyptian Talker in Production,” Variety, October 1934, 30.
15 Clark, A. P. S., “Commerce, Industry, and Banking,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 164 (1932): 95.
16 “Hiya Riwayat Awlad al-Dhawat Aydan,” al-Sabah, 6 November 1931, 23. Edward Asswad claimed that Wahbi had in fact spent $2,000 per day on studio rent. See “Egypt,” Variety, 13 October 1931, 44.
17 Karim, Mudhakkirat Muhammad Karim, 169.
19 “Maʿlumat Zarifa ʿan Film Awlad al-Dhawat,” 11.
20 “Hal Taʿlam” al-Kawakib, 2 May 1932, 11.
21 The plot of the film was published in al-Kawakib shortly after the film's release; “Qisas al-Kawakib: Awlad al-Dhawat, Taʾlif al-Ustaz Yusuf Wahbi,” al-Kawakib, 4 April 1932, 19–21. The film's storyline and excerpts from the script have been gathered from several sources. The film itself is lost, but a two-minute clip of it can be found on YouTube; “Muqabala Qadima Maʿ Yusuf Wahbi,” YouTube video, accessed 19 October 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xii3bGgKmtI.
22 Wahbi, Yusuf, ʿIshtu Alf ʿAm (Cairo: Dar al-Maʿarif, 1978), 197–203. This ʿAli Fahmi should not be confused with the nationalist leader and brother of Mustafa Kamil, ʿAli Fahmi Kamil.
23 There are only two works in English that deal with the Fahmi murder. One mainly focuses on the Egyptian perspective, and the other on the British perspective. See, respectively, Shaun Timothy Lopez, “Media Sensations, Contested Sensibilities: Gender and Moral Order in the Egyptian Mass Media, 1920–1955” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 2004), 100–37; and Bland, Lucy, “The Trial of Madame Fahmi: Orientalism, Violence, Sexual Perversity and the Fear of Miscegenation,” in Everyday Violence in Britain: Gender and Class, ed. D'Cruze, Shani (Harlow, UK: Pearson Education Limited, 2000), 185–97.
24 Marjoribanks, Edward, For the Defence: The Life of Sir Edward Marshall Hall (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1929), 423.
25 I am drawing here on the arguments about emotion, race, and empire in Saha, Jonathan, “Murder at London Zoo: Late Colonial Sympathy in Interwar Britain,” American Historical Review 125 (2016): 1468–91.
26 Marjoribanks, For the Defence, 426.
27 According to Lucy Bland, English reactions to the Fahmi trial constituted part of a wider fascination with Arab desert narratives, including the famous desert film The Sheik popularized in Britain during this period. Bland, “The Trial of Madame Fahmi,” 191–93.
28 See editions of al-Ahram from 12 September 1923 to 19 September 1923. This press coverage as well as a documentary about the life of ʿAli Kamil Fahmi produced in 1923 made the case accessible to a wide Egyptian audience. On the documentary, see Chadi, Aly Abou, A Chronology of the Egyptian Cinema in One Hundred Years, 1896–1994, trans. Amine, Nora (Cairo: al-Majlis al-Aʿla li-l-Thaqafa, 1998), 18.
29 Lopez, “Media Sensations, Contested Sensibilities,” 100–37.
30 Marjoribanks, For the Defence, 437.
34 For more on miscegenation anxieties in Britain during this period, see Bland, Lucy, “White Women and Men of Colour: Miscegenation Fears in Britain after the Great War,” Gender and History 17 (2005): 29–61.
35 Wahbi, ʿIshtu Alf ʿAm, 196.
42 Quoted in al-Hadari, Ahmad, Tarikh al-Sinima fi Misr: al-Juzʾ al-Thani min Bidayat 1931 li-Akhir 1940 (Cairo: al-Hayʾa al-Misriyya al-ʿamma li-l-Kitab, 2007), 36.
43 See the back cover page of al-Kawakib, 11 December 1933; and al-Sabah, 20 January 1933, 25.
44 “Qisas al-Kawakib,” 20.
45 Karim, Mudhakkirat, 173–74.
46 Shaun Timothy Lopez argues that the working-class background of foreign wives in part precipitated anxieties about mixed marriages. Lopez, “Media Sensations, Contested Sensibilities,” 109. Naguib Mahfouz captures this class dynamic well in his novel Palace of Desire, the second part of his Cairo Trilogy. Upon speaking about marriage to European women, Ismaʿil, one of the characters in the novel, comments, “Do you know what it means to marry a European? In a word, you ‘win’ a woman from the lowest classes, one willing to submit to a man she secretly feels only fit for servitude.” Mahfouz, Naguib, Palace of Desire, trans. Maynard, William Hutchins, Lorne M. Kenny, and Olive E. Kenny (London: Black Swan, 1994), 314.
47 Al-Hadari, Tarikh al-Sinima fi Misr, 2:34.
48 Wahbi, ʿIshtu Alf ʿAm, 202.
49 Kholoussy, Hanan, “Stolen Husbands, Foreign Wives: Mixed Marriages, Identity Formation, and Gender in Colonial Egypt, 1909–1923,” Hawwa 1 (2003): 218–21. See also Lopez, “Media Sensations, Contested Sensibilities,” 100–37.
50 Kholoussy, Hanan, “The Private Affairs of Public Officials: Mixed Marriage and Diplomacy in Interwar and Post-Mubarak Egypt,” Die Welt des Islams 54 (2014): 483–503.
51 Haram ʿAli Shukri Khamis Bey, “Bayn al-ʿAsr al-Madi wa-l-Hadir: al-Marʾa al-Misriyya wa-l-Marʾa al-Gharbiyya: Khatar Yuhaddid al-Qawmiyya al-Misriyya,” al-Marʾa al-Misriyya, 15 May 1927, 243–44.
52 “Misri Yuhabbidh al-Zawaj min al-Ajnabiyyat: Baynama Fatayatuna al-Mutaʿallimat Yasrukhuna min Azmat al-Zawaj,” al-Sabah, 6 January 1933, 13.
53 See “Fatat Yunaniyya Tahjur Ahlaha min Ajl Shabb Misri,” al-Sabah, 13 November 1931, 33; and “Fatat Britaniyya Taʿshaq Shabb Misri,” al-Sabah, 2 October 1931, 23.
54 Kholoussy, “Stolen Husbands, Foreign Wives,” 218–21.
56 Karim, Mudhakkirat, 187.
57 Yusuf Wahbi quoted in Yusuf Wahbi wa-l-Dhikrayat, ed. Ahmad, Muhammad ʿIsa (Cairo: Matbaʿat al-Dar al-Misriyya, 1973), 64.
58 Cited in “Ashwak,” al-Kawakib, 11 April 1932, 3.
59 “The Cinema Evil: Corrupting the Young,” Egyptian Mail, 21 October 1917, 1.
60 This is related to broader anxiety over the purity of white women in colonial rhetoric. See in particular the literature on the Black Peril or Yellow Peril: O'Donnell, Krista, “Poisonous Women: Sexual Danger, Illicit Violence, and Domestic Work in German South Africa, 1904–1915,” Journal of Women's History 11 (1999): 32–54; McCulloch, Jock, Black Peril, White Virtue: Sexual Crime in Southern Rhodesia, 1902–1935 (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 2000); Yi Lui, Mary Ting, The Chinatown Trunk Mystery: Murder, Miscegenation, and Other Dangerous Encounters in Turn-of-the-Century New York City (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2005); and Nicolosi, Ann Marie, “‘We Do Not Want Our Girls to Marry Foreigners’: Gender, Race, and American Citizenship,” NWSA Journal 13 (2001): 1–21.
61 British commentators also worried about film posters representing white women in India; Arora, Poonam, “‘Imperilling the Prestige of the White Woman’: Colonial Anxiety and Film Censorship in British India,” Visual Anthropology Review: 11 (1995): 39.
63 Richards, Jeffrey, The Age of the Dream Palace: Cinema and Society in Britain 1930–1939 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1984), 137.
65 Arora, “‘Imperilling the Prestige of the White Woman,’” 41.
66 Wahbi, ʿIshtu Alf ʿAm, 199–200.
67 In the 1970s, Wahbi continued to describe the plot of Awlad al-Dhawat as a “rebuttal” against the “accusations against us” by a “deceitful” woman. See “Muqabala Qadima Maʿ Yusuf Wahbi.”
68 For more on the film, see Madkur Thabit, ed., Zaynab al-Adib Haykal ʿala al-Shasha al-Misriyya (Cairo: al-Majlis al-Aʿla li-l-Thaqafa, 1996. For a historical overview of the novel Zaynab, see Colla, Elliott, “How Zaynab Became the First Arabic Novel,” History Compass 7 (2009): 214–25.
70 “Qisas al-Kawakib,” 21.
71 Scholarship on the construction of domestic roles for Egyptian woman include Pollard, Lisa, Nurturing the Nation: The Family Politics of Modernizing, Colonizing, and Liberating Egypt, 1805–1923 (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2005); Baron, Beth, The Woman's Awakening in Egypt: Culture, Society, and the Press (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1994), esp. 144–67; and El-Shakry, Omnia, “Schooled Mothers and Structured Play: Child Rearing in Turn-of-the-Century Egypt,” in Remaking Women: Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East, ed. Abu-Lughod, Lila (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1998), 126–70. On Egyptian constructions of wifehood, see Kholoussy, Hanan, For Better, For Worse: The Marriage Crisis That Made Modern Egypt (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2010), 49–76; Reynolds, Nancy Y., “Salesclerks, Sexual Danger, and Sexual Identity in Egypt, 1920s–1950s,” Journal of Women's History, 23 (2011): 63–88; and Lopez, Shaun T., “The Dangers of Dancing: The Media and Morality in 1930s Egypt,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East 24 (2004): 97–105.
72 Muhammad Tawfiq Gharib, “Sinamaʾiyyat: Awlad al-Dhawat,” al-Malahi al-Musawwara, 1 April 1932, 29–30.
74 Karim, Mudhakkirat, 170–72.
75 On the press coverage surrounding the establishment of the Arabic Language Academy, see Yunan Labib Rizk, “Academy of Arabic,” al-Ahram Weekly Online, accessed 3 December 2018, http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2003/647/chrncls.htm . See also Israel Gershoni and James P. Jankowski, Redefining the Egyptian Nation, 1930–1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 128–30.
76 Dougherty, Roberta L., “Badiʿa Masabni, Artiste, and Modernist: The Egyptian Print Media's Carnival of National Identity,” in Mass Mediations: New Approaches to Popular Culture in the Middle East and Beyond, ed. Armbrust, Walter (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2000), 262.
77 Hiya Riwayat Awlad al-Dhawat Aydan,” 22.
78 Lawrence, Amy, Echo and Narcissus: Women's Voices in Classical Hollywood Cinema (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1991).
79 Taylor, Jessica, “‘Speaking Shadows’: A History of the Voice in the Transition from Silent to Sound Film in the United States,” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 19 (2009): 3.
80 See, e.g., Lagrange, Frédéric, “Women in the Singing Business, Women in Songs,” History Compass 7 (2009): 226–50.
81 On broader links between the female voice, the telephone, madness, and desire see Barak, On, On Time: Technology and Temporality in Modern Egypt (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2013), 213–34. Barak's discussion of effendi male anger over being delayed and put “on hold” by female telephone operators poignantly intersects with the wider sidelining of women in new technologies of voice. For studies on early female singing stars of the 1920s and the rise of classical voices such as Umm Kulthum around the same period, see Danielson, Virginia, The Voice of Egypt: Umm Kulthum, Arabic Song and Egyptian Society in the Twentieth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997); and Lagrange, “Women in the Singing Business, Women in Songs,” 226–50.
82 See also the last page of Misr al-Haditha al-Musawwara, 29 January 1929.
83 Karim suggests that Hafiz fainted on the set, and left Paris the next day. He did not provide an explanation as to what may have angered her. Karim, Mudhakkirat, 172. In an article Hafiz wrote years after the film, she admitted to having disputed with Wahbi “over some technical matters,” and recalled locking herself in her room and refusing to take part in the filming; Bahiga Hafez, “On the Egyptian Silent Film.”
84 “Hiya Riwayat Awlad al-Dhawat Aydan,” 22–24.
85 For a representative example of Amina Rizk's intonation, pitch, and pacing of voice, see the film al-Tariq al-Mustaqim.
86 “Maʿlumat Zarifa ʿan Film Awlad al-Dhawat,” 11.
87 The relative openness to female film spectatorship in Egypt was in stark contrast to the situation in Syria where women had a harder time going to the cinema; Thompson, Elizabeth, “Sex and Cinema in Damascus: The Gendered Politics of Public Space in a Colonial City,” in Middle Eastern Cities, 1900–1950: Public Spaces and Public Spheres in Transformation, ed. Chr., Hans Korsholm Nielson and Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen (Gylling: Aarhus University Press, 2001), 89–111.
88 “Awwal Sawt ʿArabi Yantuk biha Mumaththil Misri,” al-Sabah, 4 December 1931, 17.
89 Wahbi, ʿIshtu Alf ʿAm, 201.
90 Kholoussy, “Stolen Husbands, Foreign Wives,” 214.
91 Much of my argument here is inspired by the works of Karen Mahar and Mark Garrett Cooper and their assessment of the decline of female directors in early Hollywood. See Karen Mahar, Women Filmmakers in Early Hollywood (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006); and Mark Garrett Cooper, Universal Women: Filmmaking and Institutional Change in Early Hollywood (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2010). More research needs to be conducted on this matter in the Egyptian context.
92 Al-Hadari, Tarikh al-Sinima fi Misr, 2:34.
93 Kholoussy, “Stolen Husbands, Foreign Wives,” 206–40.
94 “Muqabala Qadima maʿ Yusuf Wahbi.”
95 The film was exported to Syria, where it was a hit among audiences. Elizabeth Thompson, in her work on cinemas in Damascus, refers to French reports of cheers by a Syrian audience during a film screening that depicted an Egyptian man striking his French wife and lover. This film was Awlad al-Dhawat; Thompson, “Sex and Cinema in Damascus,” 102. See also Thompson, Elizabeth, Colonial Citizens: Republican Rights, Paternal Privilege and Gender in French Syria and Lebanon (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), 201. The screening of Awlad al-Dhawat in Syria points to a wider question of how the film traveled to and was received in other colonized spaces.
96 “Qisas al-Kawakib,” 21.
97 For more on trams, speed, and imported modernities, see Barak, On Time, 152–74.
98 A short excerpt of this scene can be viewed in “Muqabala Qadima Maʿ Yusuf Wahbi.”
99 Hanan Kholoussy has recently shifted scholarly attention to Egyptian state control of male sexuality; Kholoussy, “Monitoring and Medicalising Male Sexuality in Semi-Colonial Egypt,” Gender and History 22 (2010): 677–91.
100 Egyptian men's choice of partner was not only open to debate in the media, but also, in some cases, regulated by the law. It is widely known that colonial powers often discouraged and at times banned their female citizens from marrying men from colonized communities. However, Egyptian laws also regulated certain Egyptian men's marriage to non-Egyptians. On British attitudes toward mixed marriages in Egypt, see Mak, Lanver, The British in Egypt: Community, Crime and Crises 1882–1922 (London: I.B.Tauris, 2012), 72–80. On mixed-marriages in Egypt, see Kholoussy, Hanan, “Interfaith Unions and Non-Muslim Wives in Early Twentieth Century Alexandrian Courts,” in Untold Histories of the Middle East: Recovering Voices from the 19th and 20th Centuries, ed. Singer, Amy, Neumann, Christoph K. and Somel, Selçuk Aksin (London: Routledge, 2011), 54–70. In 1932, a law was introduced to prohibit men in the Foreign Service from marrying non-Egyptian women. As Hanan Kholoussy has shown, this law was rooted in broader anticolonial anxieties of the period; Kholoussy, “The Private Affairs of Public Officials.” 483–503. It did not take long for the law to take effect. On 11 April 1932, Ruz al-Yusuf magazine reported that Ramsis Shafiʿi was removed from his position as Egyptian consul in Paris for marrying a Russian woman. See “Zawaj Ramsis Shafiʿi Bey min Sayyida Rusiyya wa-l-Qanun al-Jadid Alladhi Yuharrim ʿala Rijal al-Silk al-Siyasi al-Zawaj bi-l-Ajnabiyyat,” Ruz al-Yusuf , 11 April 1932, 14.
101 See esp. Ryzova, Lucie, The Age of the Efendiyya: Passages to Modernity in National-Colonial Egypt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014); and Jacob, Wilson Chacko, Working Out Egypt: Effendi Masculinity and Subject Formation in Colonial Egypt (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2010). See also Eppel, Michael, “Note about the Term Effendiyya in the History of the Middle East,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 4 (2009): 535–39; and Efrati, Noga, “The Effendiyya: Where Have All the Women Gone?,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 43 (2011): 375–77.
102 On ʿAbd al-Wahhab and modernity, see esp. Armbrust, Walter, Mass Culture and Modernism in Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 63–93; and Armbrust, , “Long Live Patriarchy: Love in the Time of ʿAbd al-Wahhab,” History Compass 7 (2009): 251–81.
103 Although Wahbi claimed the marriage was postponed, he later wrote about moving in with her; Wahbi, ʿIshtu Alf ʿAm, 188–89.
104 Cynthia Gray-Ware Metcalf has argued that the play was performed in 1923, but I could not verify this claim; Gray-Ware Metcalf, “From Morality Play to Celebrity: Women, Gender, and Performing Modernity in Egypt: c. 1850–1939” (PhD diss.: University of Virginia, 2008), 267. ʿAmr Dawara claims that Wahbi wrote the play in 1929. ʿDawara, Amr, “Yusuf Wahbi Muʾallifan Masrahiyyan,” in Yusuf Wahbi, Fannan al-Shaʿb, ed. al-Sayyid, Muhammad ʿId (Cairo: al-Hayʾa al-ʿAmma li-Qusur al-Thaqafa, 1998), 78.
105 Turner and Larkins, Economic Conditions in Egypt, July 1931, 77; Selous, G. H. and Larkins, L. B. S., Economic Conditions in Egypt, July 1933 (London: His Majesty's Stationary Office, 1933), 83.
106 Qasim, Mahmud, Dalil al-Aflam fi al-Qarn al-ʿAshsrin fi Misr wa-l-ʿAlam al-ʿArabi (Cairo: Maktabat Madbuli, 2001), 19–20.
107 Staiger, Janet, Bad Women: Regulating Sexuality in Early American Cinema (Minneapolis, Minn.: University of Minnesota Press, 1995), 160.
108 For more on the femme fatale character, see Barbara Hales, “Dark Mirror: Constructions of the Femme Fatale in Weimar Film and Hollywood Film Noir” (PhD diss.: University of Arizona, 1995).
109 For references to Metropolis and The Blue Angel in Egypt, see al-Hadari, Tarikh al-Sinima fi Misr, 1:293, 2:27.
110 Karim, Mudhakkirat, 94.
111 “Al-Zawaj bi-l-Ajnabiyyat,” al-Kawakib, 9 May 1932, 3.
114 Excerpts from “Extremism in the Cinema” were translated in al-Muqattam and al-Kawakib. See Karim, Mudhakkirat, 186–87; and “Ashwak,” 3.
115 See Robert Vitalis, “American Ambassador in Technicolor and Cinemascope: Hollywood and Revolution on the Nile,” in Mass Mediations, 269–91. For a detailed discussion of economics and business, see Vitalis, , When Capitalists Collide: Business Conflict and the End of Empire in Egypt (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1995).
116 For legal privileges, see Brown, Nathan J., “The Precarious life and Slow Death of the Mixed Courts in Egypt,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 25 (1993): 39. On the economic role, see Deeb, Marius, “The Socioeconomic Role of the Local Foreign Minorities in Modern Egypt, 1805–1961,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 9 (1978): 11–22.
117 Karim, Mudhakkirat, 186.
118 Quoted in Karim, Mudhakkirat, 187.