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The Thief of Bagdad

This opulent 1940 fantasy/adventure tale from the Arabian Nights school overcomes a few quaint special effects with witty scripting, charismatic acting, and some of the most lavish, magnificent technicolor the eye has ever seen. John Justin stars as Ahmad, a blind beggar with a trusty dog, a lost love, and a royal score to settle. Conrad Viedt is piercingly arch as Ahmad's nemesis Jaffar, and young Sabu brings a playful excitment to the title role. Most of the film — which somehow survived six directors in Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell, Tim Whelan, Alexander Korda, Zoltan Korda and William Cameron Menzies — is visual opiate (Martin Scorsese often mentions it as a great influence), and the narrative is packed with wonder, invention and romance. A few of the special effects, especially in the case of Rex Ingrim's boisterous Djinn, may fail to impress contemporary viewers, but the grand spirit of the film should excuse such technical limitations. MGM's DVD treatment of The Thief of Bagdad spoils its fans with a gorgeous, colorful full-frame (OAR) transfer from a source print with surprisingly little damage, aside from a missing frame here and there. Audio is mono. Includes original trailer. Keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr



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