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Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937)

Approved | | Comedy, Fantasy, Musical | 29 October 1937 (USA)
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 »

Director:

Writers:

(screen play), (screen play) | 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Yusuf / Tony Martin
...
Sultan
...
Princess Miriam / June Lang
...
Sultana / Louise Hovick (as Louise Hovick)
Raymond Scott and His Quintet ...
Raymond Scott Quintete
...
Ishak / Broderick
Virginia Field ...
Dinah
...
Boland
...
Prince Musah (as Douglas Dumbrille)
Maurice Cass ...
Omar - The Rug Maker
...
Tramp
...
Tramp
...
Captain
Sam Hayes ...
Radio Announcer
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Storyline

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 <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

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


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 October 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Nuits d'Arabie  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA High Fidelity Recording)

Color:

(tinted)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Newsreel footage of the many stars appearing at the Carthay Circle Theatre premiere of Wee Willie Winkie (1937) is used for the film's finale. See more »

Goofs

The story is set in tenth-century Baghdad but reference is made to the sultan's being the ruler of Arabia. Baghdad is in Iraq or, as it would have been known then, Mesopotamia. See more »

Quotes

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 Français?
[No response]
Ali Baba: Se hable espanol? Capisce italian'?
[No response]
[...]
See more »

Connections

Version of Ali Babá e os Quarenta Ladrões (1972) See more »

Soundtracks

Swing Is Here to Sway
(1937) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Revel
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Performed by Eddie Cantor, Jeni Le Gon (dancer), the Peters Sisters (vocal trio) and others
Reprised by the Peters Sisters near the end
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Terrific fun, but watch out for that blackface
2 October 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

In his second "back to the past" dream film (four years after "Roman Scandals"), Eddie Cantor skewered FDR and the New Deal in this satiric look at the Arabian Nights. Cantor and screenwriter Gene Fowler wanted to do a take on "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court," with the difference that, as much as they poked fun at FDR's policies and oratory, the New Deal policies that Cantor institutes in Baghdad don't backfire quite the same way as the Yankee's did at King Arthur's court.

Hobo Aloysius Babson, a film fan and autograph hound, stumbles onto an Arabian Nights film set and gets made an extra. A miscalculation on his medicine sends him into a dream, however, and he finds himself at the court of the Sultan of Baghdad. Giving his name as "Al Babson," they assume he's the son of Ali Baba, and after surviving an assassination attempt made with his stunt knife, he's made an adviser to the king.

The film is full of Cantor's trademark humor, singing and dancing, and the obligatory rueful reference to Cantor's family full of daughters. A troupe of African musicians--who speak no language but Cab Calloway's--provides a terrific swing number (unhappily, Cantor performs it in blackface), and Cantor and Tony Martin deliver a catchy number, "Vote for Honest Abe," that works as a campaign song for Sultan Abdullah.

The production cost over a million dollars, not a little of which went to create an impressive flying carpet effect. Sadly, two of the crew were killed when the carpet fell on them, and Cantor himself got so knocked about and bruised in the scenes on the carpet that he was elected an honorary member of the Hollywood Stunt Men.

The film ends with Al Babson attending a film premiere in which he sees Eddie Cantor (another common Cantor touch), and a host of stars such as Victor McLaglan and Shirley Temple are also seen there (understandably: the premiere was for "Wee Willie Winkie").

All in all, the film is great fun, with fast-paced and topical dialogue and lots of great sight gags (a "W.P.A. Filling Station" for watering local camels). It's very much of its time, so if you're at all familiar with the New Deal era, it will be an entertaining hour and a half.


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