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Rich oriental lord Cassim's cheeky servant Ali Baba was sent to buy a meaty girl-slave, but brings dancer Morgiane, whom he is enamored with. When he's part of a caravan robbed by Abdel's ... See full summary »
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Ali Baba, son of the Kalif of Bagdad is brought up by the 40 Thieves after his father is killed by the soldiers of Hugalu Khan, who received the necessary information by traitor Cassim. Ali becomes the leader of the thieves and they are fighting for the freedom of his land. Per chance Ali captures the fiancée of Hugalu Khan, who turns out to be his girl friend Amara. After a few misunderstandings Ali uses her wedding day with Hugalu Khan as the day for the liberation of Bagdad. Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Hulagu Khan was a real person--he was the brother of Kublai Khan, the conqueror of Asia, and the Mongol leader who conquered Iran and Baghdad, as shown in the movie. However, it's generally believed by most historians that he died of natural causes, not murder. See more »
When the thieves are singing as they return to the cave the camera is leading them. The tire tracks of the camera car are plainly visible in the sand in front of the horse's hooves. See more »
For a man's country or his stomach he might bid his life; even for his horse. Never, never for a woman.
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Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves is the best of the Montez-Hall movies, ahead of Arabian Nights, which perhaps deserves an 8, Cobra Woman, which deserves a 7, and White Savage, which deserves only slightly over a 6. My 9 rating is perhaps a bit high -- maybe 8.4-8.6 would be more accurate -- but I give it a 9 in protest against the ridiculously low IMDb average.
What sets this above all the others is the script; both plot and dialogue are superior. The performances are also livelier, the acting better (both of the leads, Hall and Montez, and of the supporting cast), and the feeling of forward movement in the story much greater.
In fact, I rank this film third, all-time, among classic adventure films in which only normal human beings with normal human powers are involved (no genies, dragons, gods, animated skeletons, Jedi knights, etc.), and which are not at least part tongue-in-cheek (like the Indiana Jones films). Only The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Mark of Zorro are better in this category. (Though The Black Swan, The Most Dangerous Game and a few others come close.)
Kurt Katch turns in a great performance as the evil Hulagu Khan. To the 7-to-13-year-olds who crowded the Saturday matinée in 1944, Katch's Khan would be the classic portrayal of the tyrant. Of course, to adult eyes, Katch's performance is over-acted, but films in this genre have to be judged with their intended audience in mind.
Special mention should go to Turhan Bey, and to Frank Puglia as Montez's sycophantic father. The only performance which could be thought a flaw in the film is that of Andy Devine, as the fat "comedy relief" thief. The "cowboy humour" he brings from his other roles seems a bit out of place in a basically high-toned, medieval-flavoured tale about the Muslim and Mongol Middle East. I could have done without him. Still, he was doing what the part called for, so really any blame should be assigned to the writer and director rather than Devine himself. And again, we have to consider the primary audience for the film (though adults can enjoy it, too) was the kids -- and that sort of comedy relief would be what many 40s kids liked.
The music, camera work, and Technicolor are all first-rate. The film is polished. When 1940s Universal did one of its rare, big-budget "A"-list movies, it could do it very well.
Love, courage, nobility; a despicable Oriental tyrant and a people groaning under his heel; the transformation of thieves into patriots; action, glamour, spectacle, and a rousing climax -- this film is a perfect piece of sheer entertainment.
I watched this movie with my kids over and over again when they were young. They loved it. It's a great family movie if you have pre-teen kids who have not yet been jaded by the modern emphasis on loudness and special effects, and can still accept the older styles of acting and storytelling because they have the openness of childhood. If you start them out on Indiana Jones and Star Wars, it may be impossible for them to go back later and really enjoy these older-style adventure movies. Give them this experience while they can still enjoy it.
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