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Rushdi Abaza

(1927- 1980)

Rushdi Abaza

The Three Brave Men


Rushdi Abaza and Georgina Rizk in Bye Pretty One (Bay bay yâ helwah)

Rushdi Abaza and Georgina Rizk in Bye Pretty One (Bay bay yâ helwah)



Rushdi Said Abaza was born to an Italian mother, Tereza Luigi, and an Egyptian father who worked as a police officer. He graduated from St. Marc College in Alexandria and did not complete his university education. The Abaza family is deeply rooted in Egyptian society and many of its sons played significant roles in the history of the country. Many of them were politicians, journalists, writers and lawyers. However, none of these careers attracted Abaza whose aim was to become a body building athlete.

A turning point in the life of the handsome gentleman was to occur in 1948 when Abaza attracted the attention of the director Kamal Barakat while he was playing billiards in the Riviera Casino in Emad el Din Street. Barakat found something amazing about the 22 year old young man that made him give Abaza the main role in The Young Millionaire (el Millionnairah el saghîrah) and 150 L.E. as a salary. “But the boy bought clothes for 200 L.E.” says Daoud (p. 214).

“The experiment failed in the beginning, and it was bound to be a failure”, concludes Ramzi (p. 88) as acting had progressed in 20 years and looks alone were no longer the only criteria for actors. To make matters worse for the young amateur, after the shooting of the film was over, his father and the entire Abaza family strongly objected to his acting any further. Art was not allowed in such an aristocratic family. However, Abaza insisted that there was nothing wrong with art. “Poetry is a kind of art … Did you get angry at the poet Aziz Abaza” he argued (Labib p. 158). His mother, on the other hand, supported him with “fascist heroism” (Labib p. 158).

For three years Abaza played the main roles in four films but he did not meet with much success as his “artistic character was not yet shaped” (Ramzi, p. 88). He decided to travel to Italy in 1950 to try his luck in cinema there, since he spoke Italian, in addition to English, French and Spanish fluently. The Italian director Goffredo Alessandrini who directed Abaza’s second film Amina (Aminah) tried to help him there but in vain. During the six months he stayed in Italy, he was given only minor parts.

He did not fare any better in the cinema on his return to Egypt, so he turned to other things, such as working in the Suez Canal and buying a restaurant. But his love for the cinema was overpowering and he returned to it again, starting at the beginning this time. He accepted small parts that matched his ability and experience.

“If it was Kamal Barakat who discovered Rushdi Abaza, then it was Ezz Eddine Zoulficar who made a star out of him”, (Daoud, p. 216). Ramzi made the same comment and added: “It seems that in 1958 he found in Rushdi Abaza what Kamal Barakat had found 10 years earlier, but in a clearer and more mature way” (Ramzi, p.89). Zoulficar directed A Woman on the Road (Imra’h fî-l-tarîq), a turning point in the life of Rushdi Abaza. Their next film together was the following year (1959), The Second Man (el Ragoul el thânî). The film changed the typical image of a gangster presented in Egyptian cinema, for Abaza played the role of the updated criminal: a handsome, smooth man who hides his evil nature. From then on, Abaza became a star.

Abaza’s career is rich and complicated. He reached the peak of his career in political films such as Jamila the Algerian (Gamîlah), A Man in Our House (Fî baytinâ ragoul), No Time For Love (Lâ waqt li-l-houbb), Sunset and Sunrise (Ghouroub wa Chourouq), Something in My Heart (Chay’ fî sadrî) and Behind the Sun (Warâ’ el chams). He also played some comic roles in which the comedy emerged from the situation itself such as Wife Number 13 (el Zawgah raqam talatacher), Beware of Women (âh min Hawwâ’), For a Bunch of Children (Min agl hifnat awlâd), and Half an Hour of Marriage (Nouss sa’at zawâg). “The core of all his roles is that he is a strong, self-confidant man”, concludes Daoud (p. 220). Labib sees in the heart of Rushdi Abaza a “touch of sadness” for his lost chances. While shooting The Valley of Kings, Eleanor Parker invited him to go to Hollywood where she, together with Robert Taylor, intended to introduce him to international cinema. However, he refused. When David Lean came to choose an actor to play Lawrence of Arabia, the competition was between Rushdi Abaza, who behaved like a star during the meeting with the director, and Omar Sharif who grasped the chance and played the role (Labib, p.160).

More than one critic saw Rushdi Abaza as the successor of Anwar Wagdi. But Kamal Ramzi took it a step further. He saw that Ahmed Ramzi was a continuation of the merry side of Anwar Wagdi, while Rushdi Abaza inherited the bold and adventurous side that attracts women. As such, he had “his own independent character with its distinctive features” (Ramzi, p. 89).

Rushdi Abaza wrote one film Achour the Lion Heart (‘Achour qalb el asad) in 1961 and produced The Naughty Men (Chaqâwat riggâlah). He diedin 1980 while making The Strong Men (el Aqwiyâ’’) and actor Salah Nazmi completed his role.


1948: The Young Millionaire (el Millionnairah el saghîrah)
1949: Amina (Amînah)
1949: The Man with Two Faces (Zou el waghân)
1950: A Woman of Fire (Immra'ah min nâr)
1951: My Children (Awlâdî)
1952: The Victorious (el Mountasir)
1952: The Spring Festival (Chamm el nasîm)
1952: Master Hassan (el Ousta Hasan)
1953: A Conspiracy (Mou'âmarah)
1954: They Made a Criminal out of Me (Ga’alounî mougriman)
1954: Pity my Tears (Irham doumou’î)
1954: Life or Death (Hayât aw mawt)
1954: The Valley of Kings
1955: I am Leaving (Innî râhilah)
1955: Brides in the Auction (‘Arâyis fi-l-mazâd)
1955: The Sea of Love (Bahr el gharâm)
1955: Fortune Carrée or Square Fortune
1956: Who is the Killer? (Man el qâtil)
1956: How Can I Forget You? (Izzây ansâk)
1956: Ismail Yassin in the Police (Ismâ‘îl Yasîn fi-l-bolîs)
1956: The Ten Commandments
1956: Delilah (Dalîlah)
1956: Love Appointment (Maw’id gharâm)
1957: I Shall Never Weep (Lan abkî abadan)
1957: Tamr Henna (Tamr henna)
1957: Port-Said (Por Sa’îd)
1957: Nights Without Sleep (Lâ anâm)
1957: The Merchants of Death (Touggâr el mawt)
1957: The Road of Hope (Tarîq el amal)
1958: Virgin Hearts (Qouloub el ‘adhârâ)
1958: Sultan (Soultân)
1958: I Have Only You (Mâlîch gheirak)
1958: Gamila (Gamîlah)
1958: A Woman on the Road (Imra'h fî-l-tarîq)
1959: The Second Man (el Ragoul el thânî)
1959: The Blazing Sun (Sirâ’ fî-l-Nîl)
1959: Thinking of the One who has Forgotten Me (Bafakkar fi-llî nâsînî)
1959: The Highwayman (Qâti’ tarîq)
1959: The Brunette of Sinai (Samrâ'’ Sinâ'’)
1959: I am Innocent (Anâ barî'ah)
1959: The Police Inspector (Moufattich el mabâhith)
1960: Men in the Storm (Rigâl fi-l-’âsifah)
1960: Angel and Devil (Malâk wa chaytân)
1960: Love and Deprivation (Houbb wa hirmân)
1960: Meeting at Dusk (Liqâ'’ fî-l-ghouroub)
1960: Bahiyya (Bahiyyah)
1960: My Love's Anklet (Khoulkhâl habîbî)
1960: Oh My Love (Yâ habîbî)
1960: My Mother and I (Anâ wa oummî)
1960: The End of the Road (Nihâyat el tarîq)
1960: The Teenagers (el Mourâhiqât)
1961: No Return (Bilâ ‘awdah)
1961: H3 (Heh thalâthah)
1961: A Struggle in the Mountain (Sirâ’ fî-l-gabal)
1961: A Man in Our House (Fî baytinâ ragoul)
1961: The Prettiest Girl (Sitt el banât)
1961: A Heart in the Dark (Qalb fî el zalâm)
1961: Love Date (Maw’d gharâm)
1961: Oh Islam (Wa Islâmâh)
1962: The Martyr of Divine Love (Chahiâdat el houbb el ilâhî)
1962: The Secret of the Absent (Sirr el ghâ'’ib)
1962: Wife Number 13 (el Zawgah raqam talatacher)
1962: Salwa is in Danger (Salwa fî mahabb el rîh)
1962: Pretty and Liar (Hilwah wa kaddâbah)
1962: The World of Girls (Douniâ el banât)
1962: Beware of Women (âh min Hawwâ'’)
1963: Crazy People are in Bliss (el Magânîn fî na’îm)
1963: The Princess of Arabs (Amîrat el ‘arab)
1963: No Time for Love (Lâ waqt li-l-houbb)
1963: The Devil's Road (Tarîq el chaytân)
1963: The Small Fairy (el Sâhirah el saghîrah)
1963: Bride of the Nile (‘Arous el Nîl)
1964: The Road (el Tarîq)
1964: The Three Devils (el Chayâtîn el thalâthah)
1964: A Weird Girl (Fatât châdhdhah)
1964: A Bedouin in Paris (Badaweyyah fî Paris) Lebanon
1965: The Troublemakers (el Mouchâghiboun)
1965: The Seeker of Love (el Bâhithah ‘an el houbb)
1965: The Three Sane Men (el ‘Ouqalâ'’ el thalâthah)
1966: Too Young to Love (Saghîrah ‘alâ el houbb)
1966: Enemy of Women (‘Adouww el mar'ah)
1966: Men's Mischief (Chaqâwat riggâlah) (actor and producer)
1966: His Excellency the Ambassador (Ganâb el safîr)
1966: Lover's Lament (Mabkâ el ‘ouchchaq)
1966: A Wife from Paris (Zawgah min Paris)
1966: Women and Him (Houwa wa-l-nisâ'’)
1967: Shame (el ‘Ayb)
1967: The Last Kiss (el Qoublah el akhîrah)
1967: When We Love (‘Indamâ nouhibb)
1967: A Crime in the Quiet Neighborhood (Garîmah fî-l-hayy el hâdî')
1968: The Splendour of Love (Raw’t el houbb)
1968: Dad Wants So (Bâbâ ‘âyiz kidah)
1968: The Three Prisoners (el Masâguîn el thalâthah)
1968: Eve on the Road (Hawwâ'’ ‘alâ el tarîq)
1968: Do not Touch My Wife (îdak ‘an mirâtî) Lebanon
1969: The Three Brave Men (el Choug’ân el thalâthah)
1969: The Struggle of the Professionals (Sirâ’ el mouhtarifîn)
1969: For a Bunch of Children (Min agl hifnat awlâd)
1969: Half an Hour of Marriage (Nouss sa’at zawâg)
1970: The Fire of Passion (Nâr el chawq)
1970: The Mirage (el Sarâb)
1970: Those were Good Days (Kânat ayyâm)
1970: The Pickpocket (Sâriq el mihfazah)
1970: A Wife for Five Men (Zawgah li-khamsat riggâlah)
1970: Adventures of Youth (Moughâmarat chabâb)
1970: The Evil Ones (el Achrâr)
1970: The Lost Love (el Houbb el dâ'’î’)
1970: Sunset and Sunrise (Ghouroub wab Chourouq)
1970: The Loss (el Dâyyâ'’) Lebanon
1971: The Man of the Night (Sab' el layl)
1971: A Man and a Woman (Immra’ah wa ragoul)
1971: Something in My Heart (Chay’ fî sadrî)
1971: My Dear Daughter (Ibnatî el 'azîzah)
1971: A Woman for all Men (Immra’ah lî kol el riggâl) Lebanon
1972: Den of the Wicked (Waker el achrâr)
1972: The Hour Zero (Sa'at el sifr)
1972: A Word of Honour (Kalimat charaf)
1972: Emotions and the Body (el 'Atifah wa-l-gasad)
1972: From Home to School and Back (Min el bayt li-l-madrasah)
1972: The Devil and Autumn (el Chaytân wa-l-kharîf)
1973: Girls Must Get Married (el Banât lâzim titgawwiz)
1973: Children For Sale (Abnâ'’  li-l bay’)
1973: My Story with Life (Hikâyatî ma'a el zamân)
1974: Where is My Mind? (Ayn 'aqlî)
1975: I Will Never Return (Abadan lan a'oud)
1975: Oh God Grant Me Redemption (Yâ rabb toubah)
1975: I Want a Solution (Ouridou hallan)
1975: Bloody Sunday (Yawm el ahad el dâmî)
1975: My First and Last Love (Houbbî el awwal wa-l-akhîr)
1975: The Youth of these Days (Choubbân hâdhihi el ayyâm)
1975: The Most Beautiful Child in the World (Agmâl tefl fî-l-'âlam)
1976: A World of Children ('âlam 'iyâl 'iyal)
1976: Tawhida (Tawhîdah)
1977: Tears in Laughing Eyes (el Doumou' fî 'ouyoun dâhikah)
1977: Oh Night! Oh Time! (Ah yâ layl yâ zaman)
1977: Bye Pretty One (Bay bay yâ helwah)
1977: Love Sometimes Comes Before Bread (el Houbb qabla el khoubz ahyânan)
1977: For the Sake of Life (Min agl el hayâat)
1978: Life is Over, My Son (Wa dâ'’ el 'oumr yâ waladî)
1978: The Famous Case (el Qadiyyah el machhourah)
1978: The Judge and the Hangman (el Qâdî wa-l-gallâd)
1978: Behind the Sun (Warâ’ el chams)
1979: For Whom the Sun Rises (Liman touchriq el chams)
1979: Let Me Take Revenge (Da’ounî antaqim)
1979: She is Afraid of Something (Khâ'’îfah min chay'n mâ)
1980: Intelligent but Stupid (Adhkiyâ'’ lâkin aghbiyâ'’)
1980: The Circle of Suspicion (Dâ'’rat el chakk)
1981: Bayada (Bayyâdah)
1981: I Will Return Without Tears (Sa a’oud bîlâ doumou’
1982: The Strong Men (el Aqwiyâ'’)