8.0/10
432
10 user 10 critic

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 »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Living in India with her crude husband, a British aristocrat is reunited with an old flame at a party, though she truly has her sights set on a handsome doctor.

Director: Clarence Brown
Stars: Myrna Loy, Tyrone Power, George Brent
Certificate: Passed Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Dan McGinty has great success in his chosen field of crooked politics. But endangers it all in one crazy moment of honesty...

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Brian Donlevy, Muriel Angelus, Akim Tamiroff
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Shirley helps her idealistic architect father get his dream of a slum clearance project; The little miss dances with bill "Bojangles" robinson. Based on paul gerard smith's book, "Lucky penny".

Director: Irving Cummings
Stars: Shirley Temple, Joan Davis, Charles Farrell
Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

In the second part of the german remake of the Winnetou films, Old Shatterhead and Winnetou get forced to search for the precious in the silver sea by their evil opponent El Mas Loco.

Director: Philipp Stölzl
Stars: Wotan Wilke Möhring, Nik Xhelilaj, Fahri Yardim
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A poor girl falls for a wealthy young man. He invites her to his gala birthday party, but she doesn't have the right kind of dress to wear, so her family and friends band together to raise money to get her the proper dress.

Director: Edwin L. Marin
Stars: Shirley Temple, William Gargan, Guy Kibbee
The Fox (1967)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Based on D.H. Lawrence's novella about two young women - sickly, chattering Jill Banford and quiet, strong Ellen March - who are trying, hopelessly, to run a chicken farm in Canada. A ... See full summary »

Director: Mark Rydell
Stars: Keir Dullea, Sandy Dennis, Anne Heywood
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Werner Herzog follows mountaineers Hans Kammerlander and Reinhold Messner during their expedition into climbing the Gasherbrum mountains, which has some of the most difficult peaks to be ... See full summary »

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Reinhold Messner, Hans Kammerlander, Werner Herzog
Documentary | Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Stories of serious traffic accidents caused by texting and driving are told by the perpetrators and surviving victims.

Director: Werner Herzog
Drama | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Young freewheeling wanderer Jerry Day and his beautiful wife Toni are at odds over their lifestyle. Jerry can't accept responsibility but Toni yearns for a family and a settled life. Then ... See full summary »

Director: Henry Hathaway
Stars: Gary Cooper, Carole Lombard, Shirley Temple
Young People (1940)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Shirley's last film on her 20th Century Fox contract (aged 12). Her parents (Oakie, Greenwood) decide to retire from show biz so she can have a normal life. They are unwelcome in the small ... See full summary »

Director: Allan Dwan
Stars: Shirley Temple, Jack Oakie, Charlotte Greenwood
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

What do women want? Don Juan is aging. He's arrived secretly in Seville after a 20 year absence. His wife Dolores, whom he hasn't lived with in five years, still loves him. He refuses to ... See full summary »

Director: Alexander Korda
Stars: Douglas Fairbanks, Merle Oberon, Bruce Winston
La Bohème II (2009)
Documentary | Short | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

Part of a series of opera shorts by different directors. Herzog combines O Soave Fanciulla ("Oh you vision of beauty" from Puccini's La Boheme) with images of harsh life in Africa.

Director: Werner Herzog
Stars: Peter Auty, Mary Plazas
Edit

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
...
Dinah
...
Boland
...
Prince Musah (as Douglas Dumbrille)
Maurice Cass ...
Omar - The Rug Maker
...
Tramp
...
Tramp
...
Captain
Sam Hayes ...
Radio Announcer

Comic-Con 2017: All Aboard the IMDboat

 | 

July 20 to 23, 2017

Get entertainment news, trailer drops, and photos with IMDb's coverage of 2017 San Diego Comic-Con featuring host and IMDboat captain Kevin Smith. Watch our exclusive celebrity interviews, and tune in to our LIVE show from 3:30 to 5 p.m. PDT on Saturday, July 22.

Browse Our Guide to Comic-Con

Edit

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 »
Edit

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  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The original release prints of this film used a then-revolutionary three-tone tinting process utilizing sepia and copper. Blue and orange mixed with copper were used for night sequences while sepia, amber and copper were used for daytime scenes. 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 Baba and the Forty Thieves (1902) See more »

Soundtracks

Now's the Time to Fall in Love
(1931) (uncredited)
Written by Al Sherman and Al Lewis
Played briefly during the Ali Baba campaign parade
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
A 1930s cultural curiosity
2 August 2011 | by (Upstate New York) – See all my reviews

ALI BABA GOES TO TOWN (1937) is an interesting historical curiosity for classic movie buffs. It stars famed entertainer Eddie Cantor in one of his rare movie roles. The cast includes such familiar faces as Roland Young, John Carradine, Douglass Dumbrille, and Charles Lane, but also features burlesque queen Gypsy Rose Lee (a.k.a. Louise Hovick) at the outset of her ill-fated film career. "Looney Tunes" fans and music enthusiasts are also in for a treat seeing Raymond Scott and His Quintet dressed as Arabs and "performing" their eccentric jazz ("Twilight in Turkey") on primitive instruments.

Old movies from Hollywood's Golden Age often serve as time capsules for their era, and that is true with ALI BABA. Meant to be shown for a few weeks in theaters before stepping aside for new features from Hollywood's movie-churning machine, films set out to entertain the audience of their time, never dreaming of being resurrected in the age of home video and TCM. Jokes are often topical, reflecting the political climate or world news of the day. Dance sequences capture an era in music history and small cultural references may be lost on modern viewers.

ALI BABA GOES TO TOWN borrows its premise from Mark Twain's "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court", inserting a modern man (through a dream) into an old and foreign setting. This time, star-struck autograph seeker Al Babson (Cantor) visits the set of a Hollywood "Arabian Nights" movie, dozes off, and imagines he is in ancient Bagdad, where Roland Young is the real sultan and Douglass Dumbrille is the scheming prince. Cantor reforms Bagdad, introducing American principles of democracy and economics. He shapes Arab society in the image of New Deal America, with amusing (if absurd) modern touches (camel filling stations?) and plenty of cracks at Franklin Roosevelt and 1930s politics.

Eddie Cantor was an entertainer on stage, radio, and screen. He was famous in part, like Al Jolson, for his blackface routines, and there's one in ALI BABA. When the sultan is unable to grab the attention of his tribal African servants, Cantor speaks some Cab Calloway jive and gets them on their feet. Rubbing on his minstrel face paint, Cantor leads the Africans in an extended musical number ("Swing Is Here To Stay"), which earned an Oscar nod for dance direction. The scene was an innocuous inclusion in 1937, but can be a bit uncomfortable for modern viewers in this age of racial sensitivity.

Another great time capsule scene is at the close of the film, where the movie-within-the-movie has its glitzy premiere. It's a look back at the red carpet Hollywood premieres of yesteryear, where stars would be announced as they arrived by an emcee at a microphone. Footage from an authentic movie premiere provides cameos from Hollywood icons like Douglas Fairbanks, Shirley Temple, Tyrone Power, Victor McLaglen, Sonja Henie, Cesar Romero, and Dolores del Rio, as well as other stars of the day whose names haven't stood the test of time.

This Eddie Cantor vehicle is a dated comedy in many ways, but is valuable from a historical perspective. With its political satire and its glimpse of vintage Hollywood, the movie is intriguing. Some of the gags are fun, and it's a rare film that shows John Carradine (in an Arabian get-up, no less) doing a silly little dance. The flying carpet effects are relatively primitive, but fairly effective. I'd never seen Eddie Cantor on film before, and I must say I found his eye-rolling shtick tiresome. But that's probably his trademark and he did know his way around a witty line of dialogue.

Check out ALI BABA GOES TO TOWN if you're a fan of old-time Hollywood. (It helps if you're familiar with the 1930s and recognize names like Eddie Cantor, Gypsy Rose Lee, Roland Young, John Carradine, and Raymond Scott.) It's mildly entertaining, but it's certainly a neat curiosity. Keep an eye out for it.


4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?