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Chu Chin Chow (1934)

Passed  |   |  Action, Adventure, Comedy  |  21 September 1934 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 94 users  
Reviews: 8 user | 2 critic

Musical retelling of the "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves" Arabian Nights tale.



(play), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Stars: Anna May Wong, Elizabeth Allan, John Loder


Complete credited cast:
George Robey ...
Fritz Kortner ...
John Garrick ...
Nur-al-din Baba
Pearl Argyle ...
Marjanah, servant girl
Malcolm 'Mr. Jetsam' McEachern ...
Abdullah, Kassim's major-domo (as Jetsam)
Dennis Hoey ...
Rakham, chief henchman
Sydney Fairbrother ...
Mahbubah Baba, Ali's wife
Laurence Hanray ...
Kasim Baba
Frank Cochrane ...
Thelma Tuson ...
Alcolom Baba, Kassim's wife
Francis L. Sullivan ...
The Caliph (as Francis Sullivan)
Gibb McLaughlin ...
The Caliph's Vizier
Kiyoshi Takase ...
Entertainer at Feast (as Kyoshi Takase)


Ali Baba discovers the treasure cave of robber-baron Abu Hasan, and tells his greedy brother, Kasim Baba, who is posing as a Chinese merchant and entertaining Hasan, where the cache is hidden. Zahrat, acting as a spy for Hasan, is blamed when the robber is almost caught, and Kasim is killed. Zahrat then decides to join Ali and his son, Nor-al-din, who is in love with the slave-girl, Marjanal. During a party, she kills the disguised Hasan, and his men are boiled in oil. Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

brother | cave | violence | chinese | spy | See All (52) »


Mighty Arabian Nights of Splendor and Adventure! (USA re-release poster) See more »


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

21 September 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ali Baba Nights  »

Box Office


$500,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(reissue) (re-edited)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Referenced in The Manchurian Candidate (1962) See more »


from "Chu Chin Chow"
Music by Frederick Norton
Lyrics by Oscar Asche
Additional Lyrics by Sidney Gilliat
See more »

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User Reviews

Musical Version Of Ali Baba & The Forty Thieves
26 August 2001 | by (Pittsburgh, PA) – See all my reviews

CHU CHIN CHOW (1934) is one of the best films from Anna May Wong's British period. Disappointed that her career had been stuck in a succession of oriental vamp roles, she went to Europe and accepted an invitation from E. A. Dupont (director of VARIETY with Emil Jannings) to do PICCADILLY.

First filmed in 1925 with Betty Blythe, CHU CHIN CHOW is the Arabian Nights story of Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves, with musical numbers as you might expect to see them in a British music hall of the era---------including some pre-Busby Berkeley choreography. It was London's longest running musical and is given an elaborate screen adaptation. The production boasts sumptuous sets and lush cinematography, meant to suggest the Western view of the mysterious orient, and has a lavishness usually missing from the films of depression era Britain. The choreography, while interesting as a record of the time period, gave Busby Berkeley few sleepless nights.

An international cast, with wildly varying accents, lent CHU CHIN CHOW an odd otherworldly flavor, which fit nicely with the Arabian Nights fantasy. Besides the very beautiful and American Anna May Wong, the role of Ali Baba is played by comedian George Robey, known in Great Britain as "the Prime Minister of Mirth."

Austrian born Fritz Kortner brought a malicious enthusiasm to the role of Abu Hassan, the bandit chief. Kortner plays the part with his usual over-the-top expressionist style-------almost as if he were a very wicked little boy----------cruel and murderous one moment, cuddly and boyish the next. It was only in his American films that he approached a role with anything like restraint. He had been something of a popular curiosity in Europe for staging "eccentric" versions of Shakespeare. His right hand man in the film is Dennis Hoey, best known to American audiences as the baffled and long-suffering Inspector Lestrade opposite Basil Rathbone's Sherlock Holmes.

Pearl Argyle, one of the most beautiful leading ladies in British films, has the romantic lead of Marjanah, but is best known for her appearance as Katherine Cabal opposite Raymond Massey in THINGS TO COME. The part of Abdullah, the singer with the very low voice, is the famous Mr. Jetsam (Malcolm McEachern), the deeper half of the popular singing duo of Flotsam and Jetsam.

Most amusing of all, though, is Francis L. Sullivan, who specialized in comically pompous and officious types, playing the Caliph toward the end of the film. The famous story told about him is from the early days when British television was still live. He was reputedly playing a passenger on a plane in flight, but had evidently forgotten his lines. On camera, he blithely ad-libbed to the passenger next to him, "Excuse me, this is my stop" and left the set. But whatever his eccentricities, he and his broad girth gave an immensely enjoyable performance in one of the most fondly remembered British films of the 30's.

Jay F.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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