Sunday Matinee: The Thief Of Bagdad

The Thief of BagdadDouglas Fairbanks Sr. made some excellent adventure films in the 1920’s. One of the cooler ones is this 1924 fantasy adventure, The Thief of Bagdad.

Fairbanks stars as the thief Ahmed. He’s in the city of Bagdad plying his trade, stealing left and right. He steals a magic rope in order to break into the palace. While in the palace he sees the caliph’s daughter sleeping. Falling madly in love with her, Fairbanks decides he’ll try to steal her but he gets interrupted and has to escape.

The next day three suitors arrive in the city to win the hand of the princess. Fairbanks sneaks in with the suitors and pretends to be a prince. The princess chooses Fairbanks who then feels guilty and reveals to her that he’s really a thief. The evil of the Mongols has a spy in the palace and reveals that Fairbanks is a thief and not a prince. Fairbanks is imprisoned but the princess helps him escape. The next day the princess announces that she will marry whoever brings her the rarest gift. The three princes set out looking for rare gifts and Fairbanks heads out on quest for great treasure that will help him become a real prince.

Along the way Fairbanks fights a variety of monsters. The sets are amazing and the effects are pretty decent for 1924. In fact the film was one of the more expensive films made in the 1920’s. It has been remade a few times including a 1940 version where the thief (played by Sabu) is relegated to sidekick status. The original holds up pretty good and it is a ton of fun to watch.

Author: Shane Hnetka

Shane Hnetka spends most of his life watching movies and reading comic books, using his vast knowledge of genre culture for evil instead of good.

4 thoughts on “Sunday Matinee: The Thief Of Bagdad”

  1. One of the best things about the 1924 version, which I just saw last week, is Douglas Fairbanks. The man was 40 when he made this picture, and you should see his physique and what he does with it. Whooooeeeeee!

  2. Didn’t the RSO present the 1924 version about a decade ago, with live musical accompaniment? I know for sure that I saw them do that with the 1920 version of The Mark of Zorro in 2004.

  3. They’ve done it since 2004 as well, Emmet. I saw The General not so long ago, and it was great.

    The Thief of Bagdad keeps popping up wherever I look. Dana Stevens did a piece in Slate recommending The Story of Film: An Odyssey, which covers Thief early on. And Noel Murray recommended it the other day as it was showing on Turner Classic Movies. (I think as part of their own Story of Film-related reason.) So I guess now I’ll finally get down to seeing this.

  4. “The Story of Film: An Odyssey” has its good points, especially in the technical explanations, but it also has enough factual errors to give pause to viewers with any knowledge of film.. “Nanook of the North” was not, as the film-maker states, made in Alaska. Also, the chief reason besides weather that drew the film industry to California was that Thomas Edison was attempting to monopolize the business. (He also didn’t pay taxes in New Jersey. How? He bribed local officials to keep him and his lab off the tax rolls.)

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