An expert in ancient hieroglyphics unexpectedly finds himself involved in a web of international intrigue in this chic, enjoyably tongue-in-cheek espionage adventure. Gregory Peck stars as David Pollock, an American professor whose predictable academic routine is overturned when he is hired to help translate a mysterious message written in an obscure ancient text. The real trouble begins, however, when everyone from a wealthy oil magnate to a foreign government to brutal criminals starts to chase Pollock, desperate to discover the nature of the deciphered message. Along for the ride is Yasmin Azir (Sophia Loren), the gorgeous lover of Pollock's employers, whose loyalties are questionable, to say the least. The tangled narrative proves less important than the film's stylish surface, from the colorful London locations to the Henry Mancini score. Certain touches date the film, like a brief foray into psychedelia, but the modish visuals are generally an appropriate match to the insouciant tone. Not taking itself seriously enough to be truly thrilling, Arabesque nevertheless stands as a witty, well-made example of a particular breed of airy, intentionally superficial comic adventure.
~ Judd Blaise, All Movie Guide