Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Fantasy, Musical  |  29 October 1937 (USA)
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A movie company is doing the Arabian Nights when a hobo enters their camp, falls asleep and dreams he's back in Baghdad as advisor to the Sultan. In a spoof of Rosevelt's New Deal, he ... See full summary »



(screen play), (screen play), 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Yusuf / Tony Martin
June Lang ...
Princess Miriam / June Lang
Sultana / Louise Hovick (as Louise Hovick)
Raymond Scott and His Quintet ...
Raymond Scott Quintete
Ishak / Broderick
Virginia Field ...
Alan Dinehart ...
Prince Musah (as Douglas Dumbrille)
Maurice Cass ...
Omar - The Rug Maker
Warren Hymer ...
Stanley Fields ...
Paul Hurst ...
Sam Hayes ...
Radio Announcer


A movie company is doing the Arabian Nights when a hobo enters their camp, falls asleep and dreams he's back in Baghdad as advisor to the Sultan. In a spoof of Rosevelt's New Deal, he organizes work programs, taxes the rich and abolishes the army. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

new deal | taxes | sultan | spoof | dream | See All (41) »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

29 October 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Nuits d'Arabie  »

Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA High Fidelity Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Final film of Douglas Fairbanks. See more »


Ali Baba: Excuse me, who are these fellows? They're not even listening!
Sultan: They're my new musicians from Africa.
Ali Baba: Africa?
[to musicians]
Ali Baba: What part of Africa?
Sultan: I'm afraid they don't understand you. You see, they talk a strange tongue.
Ali Baba: [to musicians] Parlez-vous Fran├žais?
[No response]
Ali Baba: Se hable espanol? Capisce italian'?
[No response]
See more »


Version of Alibaba Aur 40 Chor (1979) See more »


The Sidewalks of New York
(1894) (uncredited)
Music by Charles Lawlor
Played briefly during the Ali Baba campaign parade
See more »

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User Reviews

Eddie brings Americana to Iraq 65 years too early
31 August 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's always a treat to see another Eddie Cantor film, rarely shown on TV and slow to be transferred to the latest video technology. Eddie dreams he has traveled to Bagdad, where he becomes Ali Baba, becoming involved in palace politics and initiating an Americanization program. He introduces swing music and finally convinces the reluctant sultan to replace his hereditary position with an elected president, with the understanding that the sultan will have no meaningful opposition. Eddie arranges for rally signs displaying various New Deal slogans and also nicknames the sultan(Abdullah) "Honest Abe". But, the people overwhelmingly elect Eddie, even though he isn't running. They dig his swing music played by a Harlem band, his humor and his enthusiasm for reforms benefiting them. The Sultan wins only 2 districts: garbled versions of Maine and Vermont, which were the only 2 states FDR didn't carry in the 1936 elections. Eddie is now in big trouble with the sultan, who is determined to make good on his threat to boil Eddie in oil. Eddie has to get away from here fast, but how? He finds a magic flying carpet, but the magic word to make it fly isn't known. Eddie guesses "inflation", since FDR thinks that should make the economy fly. It works, but without a steering wheel, Eddie is at the mercy of its whims as to where it takes him. His troubles aren't over yet....I'm sure, the screen writers would be shocked if they knew that Iraq would be forcibly subjected to an Americanization campaign only 65 years later.

The musical highlight is the "Swing is Here to Stay" scene: an all African American effort, if we include Eddie in black face as an AA. The supposed band consists of AAs dressed as various native African tribals playing mostly obvious fake ornate or primitive musical instruments while dancing around. Meanwhile, Eddie struts and dances and sings in front, eventually being replaced by Jeni Le Gon, as a wild native dancer, then by the Peters Sisters, primarily a singing trio, with some footwork included. The Peters Sisters pretty well filled up the screen, being on the heavy side, but I enjoyed their act the most. They repeated their performance near the end of the film. It's too bad this seems to be the highlight of their very limited film career, although they continued to perform for several more decades. They may also be seen-heard on DVD in "Hi Di Ho" and heard on the CD "The Jazz Train", although I have not seen or heard these.

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