The Thief Of Bagdad
1924 | U | Dual- format Blu- ray & DVD Director: Raoul Walsh Cast: Douglas Fairbanks, Julanne Johnston, Snitz Edwards, Sôjin Kamiyama, Charles Belcher, Anna May Wong
Silent swashbuckling spectacle
Release Date: OUT NOW!
Once upon a
time it seemed that every generation would have its own film adaptation of Arabian Nights tale The Thief Of Bagdad. Sadly, that tradition petered out in the mid ’ 70s, but we were left with a couple of classics. The lavish 1940 Alexander Korda- produced version remains the most famous, but the first – produced by, co- written by and starring the swashbuckler’s swashbuckler, Douglas Fairbanks – remains the most fascinating.
One of the most expensive and lavish films of the ’ 20s, this was in every sense a blockbuster and a star vehicle. The story of a thief competing with princes to win the hand of a princess, it’s packed with spectacle and special effects. Dated, of course, but some of those hand- crafted effects still have undeniable charm, and the massive set and masses of extras are a genuinely awesome sight.
The best special effect, though, is Fairbanks himself, who almost pirouettes through an immensely physical and stunt- packed role. He’s star charisma personified.
The Thief Of Bagdad is overlong, overindulgent in places and bears the scars of the era’s casual racism, but thanks to Fairbanks, it’s still fun.
Extras: A commentary by film historian Jeffrey Vance; a 17- minute “video essay” ( behind- the- scenes photos with captions, basically); a 40- page booklet. Dave Golder The fake tattoo that Fairbanks had on his arm for this role – of a triangle and a crescent – became his personal emblem.
In truth, she thought the necklace was overdoing it.