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DETAILS

MPAA Rating - NR

Length:
    106 Minutes

Genre:
    Fantasy

Original Release Date:
    Dec 3, 2002

Director
    Ludwig Berger

Cast
    Conrad Veidt, Sabu, June Duprez, John Justin, Rex Ingram

 
Movie Summary
The credited line-up of six directors-Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell, Tim Whelan, Zoltan Korda, William Cameron Menzies and Alexander Korda-should be indication enough that the 1940 The Thief of Baghdad is no ordinary sword and sandal romp. This Technicolor Arabian Nights extravaganza is widely regarded as one of the best (if not the best) fantasy films of the pre-computer technology era. The title character, named Abu (and engagingly played by Sabu), befriends a ragged young man named Ahmed (John Justin), who happens to be the rightful prince of Baghdad. The prince has been usurped by his evil vizier Jaffar (Conrad Veidt), who hopes to expand his power by marrying the breathtakingly lovely princess of Basra (June Duprez). To win the princess hand, Jaffar keeps the childlike King (Miles Malleson, who cowrote the screenplay with Lajos Biro) preoccupied with mechanical toys. Once the king has promised the princess hand to Jaffar, he is disposed of by one of those very toys, a multi-armed doll. The prince and Abu try to stop Jaffar, only to be thwarted by the viziers magical powers: the prince is struck blind, while Abu is transformed into a dog. It wouldnt do for the bad guy to win this early in the game, thus Abu, returned to human form, finds himself on a deserted beach. Stumbling across an odd-looking bottle, Abu inadvertently releases the bottles occupant: a gigantic, bombastic genie (Rex Ingram). The genie intends to crush Abu to death, but the wily thief tricks him back into the bottle. In exchange for his freedom, the genie agrees to grant Abu three wishes....and at this point, the film really begins to percolate, what with that All Seeing Eye gem, golden arrow and magic carpet added to the formula. If elements of The Thief of Baghdad sound familiar, it is because the film was used as the model for the 1992 Disney animated feature Aladdin. Even allowing for the much-improved technical wherewithal at Disneys disposal, nothing has dimmed the lustre of the multi-Oscar-winning The Thief of Baghdad, the sort of film that invariably elicits the reaction They just dont make em like that any more! ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide


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