A Bag of Good in Old Bagdad
Prince Ahmad (John Justin) is the rightful ruler of Bagdad and is a ruler who wishes to be popular with his people and seen as one of them which his chief advisor Jaffar (Conrad Veidt) takes advantage of and ousts him. When the now ousted Ahmad meets street thief Abu (Sabu) when they are tossed in to the same dungeon together they set about trying to get Ahmad his rightful place back but it leads to a series of adventures which are complicated by Ahmad's love for a beautiful princess.
The truth is that whilst I am a huge fan of old movies these older sword & sandals movies have never been my thing as often they seem forced and over the years become have dated and cheesy. It was what I thought was going to be the case when I sat down to watch "The Thief of Bagdad" but within minutes I was drawn into this impressive production from 1940. Pretty much everything about it works with not only a fabulous look about it by also these wonderful episodes, these adventures which are just so much fun.
Now I am not going to go in to detail about each of the episodes other than to say there is a nice variety from flying horses to encounters with spiders and each one is fun and exciting with that classic sense of daring do about them which even now entertains young eyes. But for me it is the production which captivates with great location shots of places which are almost fantasy like in their impressive nature with equally impressive studio scenes which are so full of detail that it must have taken the set builders and backdrop artists an age to create. And the thing is that every few minutes there is something else which impresses visually such as the scale of the princess's swinging garden bed, it is simply grand.
As for the acting well when it comes to Conrad Veidt it is a performance of the eyes and it works magnificently whilst John Justin comes across with a touch of the Errol Flynn about him to make him a familiar hero but not a complete copy. But whilst there is also the attractive Jane Duprez it is young Sabu who makes the movie as he has energy, an innocent joy and a real naturalness when it comes to the adventure side of the movie.
What this all boils down to is when I sat down to watch "The Thief of Bagdad" I did so not expecting much, just another cheesy old sword & sandal movie but what I got was a glorious production. "The Thief of Bagdad" is such a lavish production it is hard not to be impressed even now some 70 plus years after it was made. But it is not just about the look as each episode in this adventure is entertaining as well.