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Egyptian Screen legend Kamal al-Shennawy Dies

August 23, 2011

Kamal Al-Shannawy

Egyptian cinema icon Kamal al-Shennawy, who played the Egyptian Minister of the Interior in my all-time favorite Egyptian movie, Al-Irhab Wal-Kebab (Terrorism and Kebab) died Aug. 22nd.

Al-Shennawy acted in more than 200 films and TV dramas in a career that spanned 62 years. He was 89. An artist and high school art teacher, he began acting in films in the early 1940s, often as a straight man for the great comic actor Ismail Yassin.

Later, he starred in a number of serious dramatic roles including Al-Liss wal Kilab (The Thief and the Dogs), Amir el-Intekam (Prince of Revenge),  Al-Mustahil (Impossible) Al-Ragol alazi Faqad Zilluh (The Man Who Lost his Shadow) and Karnak.

In the 1990s  he returned to his comic roots with Al-Irhab wal KababTata wi Rica wi Kazem Bey, and Al-Wad Mahrous Beta al-Wazir (Mahrous, the Minister’s Man).

Here he is with the great Samia Gamel in one of his early comedies Sukkar Hanem (Sugar Lady), an Arabic version of the 19th century British classic Charlie’s Aunt. Al-Shennawy stars with Omar el Hariri as bachelors who have invited their two beautiful neighbors (played by Samia Gamal and Kariman) over to their apartment for a small get together in honor of their aunt, who is arriving from Brazil. When the aunt does not arrive as planned, they convince one of their friends to dress as a woman and masquerade as their aunt, so that the girls will think that there is a female chaperone present.

In this scene, after Gamal and al-Shennawy dance a mambo, the “aunt” orders the two men to go upstairs so the ladies can dance without being embarrassed in front of them. He then enjoys the show.

And here is Shennawyin one of the funniest scenes in Al-Irhab wal-Kebab. Adel Imam plays an accidental terrorist. Asked his demands, he requests lunches of grilled meat. Al-Shennawy, playing the Egyptian Minister of State in perfect deadpan, consults with his advisers, who insist he should not give in to terrorist demands. Al-Shennawy offers them KFC packets as a compromise, but Adel Imam gets all his “hostages” to chant a demand for grilled beef barbecue — something they, as Middle Class Egyptians, can rarely afford to eat.

For more information:

Here is an obituary from Al-Masry Al-Youm.

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