In the time of the Arabian Nights, the city of Baghdad is ruled by Sultan Ali Bajazeth but actually controlled by the scheming Grand Vizier Ghamal. The poor of Baghdad are aided by Karim, the Thief of Baghdad.
A thief falls in love with the Caliph of Bagdad's daughter. The Caliph will give her hand to the suitor that brings back the rarest treasure after seven moons. The thief sets off on a magical journey while, unbeknownst to him, another suitor, the Prince of the Mongols, is not playing by the rules...Written by
Erik Gregersen <email@example.com>
Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies. See more »
When the guards prevent The Thief, carrying his friend on his head, from entering the gates, they completely disappear in the next shot after the gates are closed. See more »
The Thief of Bagdad:
I am not a prince. I am less than the slave who serves you-a wretched outcast-a thief. What I wanted, I took. I wanted you-I tried to take you-But when I held you in my arms-the very world did change. The evil within me died. I can bear a thousand tortures, endure a thousand deaths-but not thy tears.
This Arab Prince is but a thief. Seek him out!
Quick! Hide thyself. If thou art found with me, they will be merciless. I love you.
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...Douglas Fairbanks brought grace and poetry to physical action on the movie screen. Fairbanks essentially invented the action/adventure movie genre, known in his day as swashbucklers.
"Thief of Bagdad" was made in 1924 when Fairbanks was half way through the heyday of that part of his career. He already had "Zorro" "The Three Musketeers" and "Robin Hood" behind him. "Thief" was something of a departure, however, for it depended less on Fairbanks ability to dance his way though physical stunts than it did on the Arabian Nights tableau it presented on the screen. And frankly, nothing like it has every been done since. Only Griffth's "Intolerance" created the same kind of feel, and it was gritty and warlike, where as "Thief" was a sort of wondrous dream about what it would be like to live by your wits, go off and slay dragons and eventually, win the hand of a princess by saving her father's kingdom.
Fairbanks was over 40 when he made this film and yet seems so perfectly suited for it that we forget his age. He is the embodiment of the dashing hero.
But what almost overshadows him are the sets themselves. Designed by William Cameron Menzies, they are beyond spectacular. Almost every frame of this film is a work of art and of course, the amazing thing is, this was not done through computer animation. So skillful are the designs and the camerawork, that it is almost impossible to tell where the sets stop and the matt paintings begin.
Credit for all this must also go to Fairbanks,who wrote the script and produced the film. Raoul Walsh's direction is also great, although the film is a little long in some spots and would be aided by some skillful editing.
Fairbanks acting style seems today very much of the silent era, yet at the same time, there is always the feel of joyous celebration to it. He was always something of the happy rogue or perhaps, a guy who realized he was getting to make a living by playing in the world's most wonderful sandbox. He was blessed with good fortune and he knew it.
Of the others, Julanne Johnston, who plays the princess, probably comes off the worst of the main characters. She is beautiful,but comes off as little more than window dressing. But cudos to the incredible Anna May Wong who plays the treacherous Mongol slave girl. Wong's great beauty and strong screen presence allow her to steal almost every scene she is in. That Wong never got the chance to play many lead roles is one of the great tragedies of Hollywood history.
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