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Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937)

Passed | | 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:

David Butler

Writers:

Harry Tugend (screen play), Jack Yellen (screen play) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Eddie Cantor ... Ali Baba
Tony Martin ... Yusuf / Tony Martin
Roland Young ... Sultan
June Lang ... Princess Miriam / June Lang
Gypsy Rose Lee ... Sultana / Louise Hovick (as Louise Hovick)
Raymond Scott and His Quintet Raymond Scott and His Quintet ... Raymond Scott Quintete
John Carradine ... Ishak / Broderick
Virginia Field ... Dinah
Alan Dinehart ... Boland
Douglass Dumbrille ... Prince Musah (as Douglas Dumbrille)
Maurice Cass Maurice Cass ... Omar - The Rug Maker
Warren Hymer ... Tramp
Stanley Fields ... Tramp
Paul Hurst ... Captain
Sam Hayes 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


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 October 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Nuits d'Arabie See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA High Fidelity Recording)

Color:

Black and White (tinted)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Two special-effects technicians--grip Harry Harsha and propman Philo Goodfriend--were killed when a machine that was being used to make the "flying carpet" look like it was flying jumped off its tracks and fell on them. 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 Fran├žais?
[No response]
Ali Baba: Se hable espanol? Capisce italian'?
[No response]
[...]
See more »

Alternate Versions

Some prints also include Tony Martin singing, and June Lang dancing, "I've Got My Heart Set on You", making for a running time closer to 81 minutes than 77 minutes in the edited versions. See more »

Connections

Version of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944) See more »

Soundtracks

Laugh Your Way Through Life
(1937) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Revel
Lyrics by Mack Gordon
Performed by Eddie Cantor
Reprised by Cantor near the end
Played often in the score
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The New Deal To The Old Caliphate
30 January 2008 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Ali Baba Goes To Town anticipates the war in Iraq by several decades. Just as we are at war to democratize Iraq and its capital Bagdad, so Eddie Cantor is in Iraq by himself to bring the New Deal to the old caliphate. The populace seems to take to it somewhat better.

Cantor is young Al Babson hitchhiking on a freight car to Hollywood when while doing a little soft shoe to entertain fellow tramps Stanley Fields and Warren Hymer he falls out of the car and in the desert. Not to worry though, he lands in the middle of a sand and sandal Arabian picture that 20th Century Fox was shooting. The film has the look of the kind that Maria Montez would do at Universal in the next decade. He gets hired as an extra.

However in a big scene where he's one of many to pop out of a giant jar, Eddie over medicates himself on his many pills and falls asleep and dreams himself back into old Bagdad. The people he meets there are suspiciously like the stars of the film he's on like June Lang, Tony Martin, and Roland Young. Young makes a rather urbane sultan who takes to Cantor, so much so he makes him his prime minister. Cantor proceeds to introduce the New Deal to Bagdad and gives the people some ideas of democracy.

That does not sit well with a trio of villains, Douglass Dumbrille, John Carradine, and Louise Hovick. If you don't recognize the name Louise Hovick, she was a minor starlet at Fox who would leave their shortly for another career involving exposure under the better known name of Gypsy Rose Lee.

Cantor did this whole thing before and much better in Roman Scandals. In real life Cantor was a number one booster of the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt and the satire is somewhat blunted. It's also somewhat dated and you'd really have to be familiar with both Cantor and the Thirties to get a lot of the jokes.

Tony Martin is in the film as a young reformer type or what passed for one in old Bagdad. I got a feeling that a lot of his role was left on the cutting room floor. He makes no mention of Ali Baba Goes To Town in his joint memoir with Cyd Charisse.

Ali Baba Goes To Town did not fare well at the box office even with the presence of a whole lot of guest stars in the film via newsreel clips from the premiere of Wee Willie Winkie. By mutual consent Darryl F. Zanuck and Eddie Cantor did not make any more films and Cantor was off the screen for three years.

The film is really for Eddie Cantor fans and for those who'd like to familiarize themselves with one of the greatest entertainers of the last century. But there are far better filmed examples of his work.


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