The Thief Of Bag­dad

SFX - - Rated / Dvd & blu- ray -

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.

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