The Thief of Bagdad (1940)



Critic Consensus: Dashing, dazzling, and altogether magical, The Thief of Bagdad is an enchanting fantasy for children of all ages.

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In ancient Bagdad, Abu, a good-natured young thief (Sabu), befriends the deposed king Ahmad (John Justin) as both are imprisoned in the palace dungeon, awaiting execution under orders from the evil vizier Jaffar (Conrad Veidt), who has seized the throne. But they escape and make their way to Basra, where Ahmad, now living as a beggar, meets and falls in love with the Princess (June Duprez), who has been betrothed by her father the Sultan (Miles Malleson, who also wrote the screenplay) to Jaffar. Their fight for the love of the Princess triggers a series of adventures for the young Abu that brings him halfway around the world and into mystical realms with help from a towering genie (Rex Ingram), brushing up against the gods and transforming the little thief into a hero in the process. Along the way, we encounter a wide array of characters, some of them charming, such as the gentle Old King (Morton Selten), and some sinister, such as the devious Halima (Mary Morris), plus a range of color and lushly designed sets and set pieces (and special effects) that still dazzle the eye seven decades later, even in the wake of various remakes (which include Disney Studios' Aladdin). And it all leads to an amazing and suspenseful ride on a magic carpet, and a race against time to save the king and his beloved. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi
Action & Adventure , Kids & Family , Science Fiction & Fantasy
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
United Artists


Conrad Veidt
as Jaffar
June Duprez
as Princess
as Abu
John Justin
as Ahmad
Rex Ingram
as Djinni
Mary Morris
as Halima
Bruce Winston
as Merchant
Hay Petrie
as Astrologer
Roy Emerton
as Jailer
Allan Jeayes
as Storyteller
Adelaide Hall
as Singer
Frederick Burtwell
as Unnamed Character
Glynis Johns
as Unnamed Character
Norman Pierce
as Unnamed Character
John Salew
as Unnamed Character
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Thief of Bagdad

Critic Reviews for The Thief of Bagdad

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (6)

This 1940 movie is one of the great entertainments. It lifts up the heart.

Full Review… | November 26, 2012
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Alexander Korda's opulent Arabian Nights fantasy suffers from pallid performances and frequently succumbs to kitsch, but it still casts its fragile spell.

Full Review… | November 26, 2012
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The Thief of Bagdad is a colorful, lavish and eye-appealing spectacle.

Full Review… | July 7, 2010
Top Critic

Treating cinema as a giant toy box, Korda resembles a child with an overactive imagination, giddily piling on every exotic and magical conceit the story can handle.

October 18, 2008
AV Club
Top Critic

A delightful hocus-pocus of colour, dashing adventure, and special effects.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Ranks next to Fantasia as the most beguiling and wondrous film of this troubled season.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Thief of Bagdad

Colorful hooey has committed performances from the cast who remain straight faced amid preposterous situations. However you know that going in so just sit back and enjoy, with kids preferably, the beautiful technicolor, costumes and actors.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Very cute classic with great special effects for movie made in 40`s

Wahida K
Wahida K

Super Reviewer

It's only a matter of time before hollywood does a big budget, computerized-effects version of this movie starring Shia LeBouf or Zach Effron as Abu. In this, the 1940 version of the film, we have Sabu in the title role that Zach Effron will one day play. Abu befriends Ahmad (the very anglo John Justin), the ruler of Bagdad who is ousted and thrown in prison by the wicked Jaffar (Conrad Veidt), all for the love of the lovely Princess (June Duprez). What follows is a fantasy fairytale filled with green screen giant genies, spiders and squid. There's also flying carpets and flying toy horses, and a crossbow that always shoots whoever you're aiming at right between the eyes. In other words, it's a movie every 8-year old boy should love (I wish I had seen it when I was eight).

Devon Bott
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

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