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The Thief of Bagdad

The Thief of Bagdad (1924)

tomatometer

95

Average Rating: 8.1/10
Reviews Counted: 20
Fresh: 19 | Rotten: 1

It requires some viewing commitment, but this beautifully assembled showcase for Douglas Fairbanks' acting offers some splendid treats for classic film fans.

No Score Yet...

Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 3
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 1

It requires some viewing commitment, but this beautifully assembled showcase for Douglas Fairbanks' acting offers some splendid treats for classic film fans.

audience

81

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 2,188

My Rating

Movie Info

Douglas Fairbanks is at his most graceful and charismatic in one of the classic silent films of the 1920s. As the thief of Baghdad, his movements are dance-like -- nothing like the athletics he performed in most of his other films. In this Arabian take, the thief ignores the holy teachings and sneaks into the palace of the Caliph (Brandon Hurst). All thoughts of robbery slip away, however, when he sees the beautiful princess (Julanne Johnston). Princes have come from many faraway lands to win

Jan 7, 1998

United Artists

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All Critics (20) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (19) | Rotten (1) | DVD (3)

It is like reading the Arabian Nights at one sitting, with only six minutes allowed to stretch the limbs and get the contrast of a workaday world.

February 2, 2011 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Walsh's dynamism is evident in every frame of this deftly Americanized fantasy, beautifully designed by William Cameron Menzies.

October 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Korda's version of 1940 has the quirks and the luscious colour, but this one has the electric energy.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A grinning, bare-chested Douglas Fairbanks shimmies up a rope and enters a room in the palace, intending to steal a casket of baubles. Instead, his eyes fall on Princess Julanne Johnston... Of such things movie myths are made.

November 19, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
Radio Times

The film's 149-minute running time might test the patience of even the most devout silent film fan, but the decadent costumes, elaborate sets, and Fairbanks's copious talents provide more than enough baroque pleasure to pass the time.

June 14, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

Propelled by the actor's acrobatic stunts and groundbreaking special effects, Thief of Bagdad is pure pleasure.

May 27, 2013 Full Review Source: Oregonian
Oregonian

... one of the grandest and most glorious spectacles of the silent era.

March 24, 2013 Full Review Source: Parallax View
Parallax View

A victory of style over substance.

March 1, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Douglas Fairbanks is magnetic in this fun early adventure.

February 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Visually spectacular mix of adventure movie and fantasy.

July 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Classic Film and Television
Classic Film and Television

A visual extravaganza.

January 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The immense space -- both vertical and horizontal -- in this film finally seemed enough to contain Fairbanks' sheer gusto.

June 20, 2008 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

The film has a joyful sort of grandeur that's basically dead in the modern cinema.

December 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

Unprecedented special effects and sets… perhaps the first great achievement of cinematic epic mythopoeia, and the forerunner to the likes of The Lord of the Rings.

October 27, 2004 Full Review Source: Decent Films Guide
Decent Films Guide

Full of astounding effects way ahead of their time, this first screen version of the famous Arabian Nights fable is wonderfully extravagant.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Fairbanks's splendid flourishes infect the whole cast.

February 4, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Not up to the 1940 version , but a treat

August 22, 2002
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Audience Reviews for The Thief of Bagdad

Borrowing extensively from ballet this masterpiece tells its story as if you were at the back of a theater and unable to hear the actors on the stage (and yet they are aware of your presence, play specifically to your pleasure) and so nearly every movement and gesture is played BIG, even the sets are BIG ...so that little ol' you at the back understand it all. In the midst of all the grandeur Douglas Fairbanks, a dance wunderkind, every move screaming youth and vigor and finesse (you quickly understand that here is the guy who invented parkour, as there is no set piece, no furniture, no expanse, that this guy doesn't see as a personal challenge to leap over).
There's a story here too, something about rising above your station, seizing the day, etc., etc., and there's the American racist penchant in evidence but mostly a old school tale told the old school way. Enjoyable.
August 5, 2014
ApeneckFletcher

Super Reviewer

The first half of the movie is a predictable romantic comedy type story, but it changes in the middle and gets exciting as the thief goes on an epic adventure to win the princess. This is a really long movie, a little too long, but it's got some really cool special effects in the second part and Fairbanks is awesome as usual.
December 21, 2010
ajv2688

Super Reviewer

silent "thief of bagdad" is raoul walsh's lush classic with original swashbuckler douglas fairbanks in the imaginatively turbulent exotic land of arab...it is intertwined with the bizarre outlandishness of persia, india, china as well as the essence of arab under intepretation of the primary stage of hollywood aesthetism. the visuality is mythically expressionistic thrived with every stroke of riotous imageries, such as the prophetic magic crystal upon the pupil of indian buddha with multiple hands, the swirling marine palace with mermaids, the flaming caves within the moon and the mongol eccentric courtesies.....of course, it also includes the cameos of the first chinese american hollywood star, anna may wong as the undercover mongolian slavegirl who doublecrosses the princess. inevitablly chineses are the ultimate villains douglas fairbanks have to confront then conquer.

fairbanks stars as the title role, theif of bagdad, who is a frivolous but resourceful man abiding upon the life philosophy of grasping everything he wants at once...an incorrigible crook who lives for his own pleasure...he enjoys his unrepetant thieveries until his arms are set upon the fair chaste princess of bagdad, so he gotta earn himself a honour of prince by seeking the rarest treasure on earth seperately with his competitors: princes of persia, india, and mongol...how shall he overwhelm the persian flying carpet, indian crystal ball and mongolian healing golden apple?

eventually chinese mongols are the evil ones who entrap the princess then besiege bagdad with insidious ambush...the odd thing is mongols are all dressed in the constumes of merchurian dynasty in the last century of china as if it's whimsical pastiche of silent hollywood with all the background extravagenza which functions highly upon human endeavor in the age without CGI...the result might be blatantly exposable but still a granduer visual feast....most of all, our athletic swashbuckler douglas fairbanks is flamboyantly dashing enough to live up as the fearless romantic hero.

"theif of bagdad" is somehow the best exemplification of the so called "american orientialism" with a distorted image upon the east by dismissing it as "primitive, slavish, exotic, manipulative, and amoral," particularly upon china. arab, persia, india and china are all "orient" by the ancient definition of the occident, so " the more eastern the more twisted" would be the principle to comply. personally, as what i mentioned before upon "the shanghai gesture," at least being "primitive, slavish, exotic, manipulative, and amoral" is still uncompromisingly edgy with its luring characteristics. so far, the coolest asian hollywood star to me is still anna may wong with her quirky orientalness blended in the sensuality which populates in 20s~40s.
March 10, 2008
dietmountaindew
Veronique Kwak

Super Reviewer

My favorite version of the Arabian nights tale is this wonderful, timeless epic fantasy with a great acrobatic performance by Douglas Fairbanks. magical ride for all of us who are still kids.
December 28, 2007
pier007

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Der Dieb von Bagdad (DE)
  • The Thief of Bagdad (1924) (UK)
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