Monday, February 12, 2018

The Thief Of Bagdad!

This Douglas Fairbanks movie The Thief of Bagdad is a bravura event from 1924 and features the famous silent movie hero in a rousing adventure which sprawls across a geography which is as much mythical as historical. We meet the titular thief immediately in the movie as he's brazenly plying his trade in the streets of Bagdad with little regard for those he might hurt. His confidence is staggering and you can see immediately that a fall is coming. He spies a princess from afar and falls in love and plots to pretend to be a prince himself to get close to her and possibly make off with his new-found object of obsession. But after meeting her he falls truly in love and despairs his fraud. He is discovered and then seeks to find a way to make himself truly worthy which results in a wildly dangerous quest into a magical land which has him battle dragons, cross fiery chasms, battle deadly sea spiders and sail across the sky on flying horses.  He gets the treasure he seeks and is just in time to save his beloved from the schemes of a Mongol prince who has made moves to take not just the Princess but all of Bagdad as well.

I would love to see a cleaner version of the movie than I personally own (a pretty cheap one). The images are wonderful to see and the fantasy elements, which run throughout, but are clustered in the final section of the movie are amazing on screen. There is a magic rope, a cloak of invisibility, a flying carpet, and more as the story keeps a pretty good pace most of time. The middle of the film which spends a lot of time focusing on the Thief's regrets seems to lag some, but once he's on his quest the tempo is brisk indeed.

If you haven't seen this one, it's well worth the two hours or more it takes to enjoy it. More Arabian Nights tomorrow.

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  1. It's such an enchanting film. It influenced a lot of later material. I think Jack Kirby drew from it in that long, Arabian Nights style serial at the end of Tales of Asgard.

    The later, admittedly inferior, Steve Reeves remake resulted in one of the most beautiful Dell movie adaptions I've ever seen, with art by Reed Crandall and George Evans.

    1. I don't have a copy of the Reeves version, but I do want to see it just as a point of comparison.

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