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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>
I'm mostly commenting just to double the number of comments on this film. The film has a nice brisk pace and attractive leads. It's mostly a fun light-hearted piece of escapist entertainment, with the only problems being that the sets, costumes, and Andy Devine all keep reminding us that it is a Hollywood film being staged for the cameras. The sets often look horribly fake, the costumes look brand new and freshly dry-cleaned, in order to look good in Technicolor one supposes. The back projections are just awful, and absurdly fake.
There's one scene when the 40 thieves are riding off furiously in a cloud of dust, as seen from a distance. Then we get a close up of the three leaders, each in turn, wearing bright clean clothes, and apparently sitting on coin-operated horses in front of some grainy back projection. It's unintentionally funny. And Andy Devine is the least convincing Arab thief ever. He's supposed to be comic relief, akin to Friar Tuck in many versions of Robin Hood. However, his line readings are awful, with his voice cracking most of the time, apparently in an attempt at humor. It's as if he strolled on to the wrong set, grabbed a freshly laundered costume and misguidedly decided to join in.
If you watch Ali Baba today, it can be viewed as a commentary on the US presence in Iraq. An outside invader (here the Mongols) has sacked and overtaken Baghdad. A popular insurrection boils in the countryside, but is dismissed by the invaders as merely the work of thieves and troublemakers. The occupier goes in for torture and bullying of the opposition, etc. The film does date from the middle of WWII, so it is unsurprising if some references to war and then-current events seeps through.
If you want to see a better film on this theme, I'd recommend Douglass Fairbanks in The Thief of Baghdad. (I haven't seen the 1940 Sabu re-make yet). Or for those more adventurous in their cinematic tastes, Lotte Reiniger's The Adventures of Prince Achmed is an amazing silhouette animation film from 1926, which is stunningly beautiful.
6 of 18 people found this review helpful.
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