The Thief of Bagdad


The Thief of Bagdad

Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 25


Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,291
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The Thief of Bagdad Photos

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 the princess' hand (and it's amusing to watch her face growing ever more alarmed at their arrival, because each one is uglier than the last). The thief disguises himself as a prince and the princess falls in love with him. After having a pang of conscience, the thief confesses all to the Holy Man (Charles Belcher), who sends him to find a magic chest. He braves many obstacles to get it, and when he returns he discovers that the Mongol Prince (Sojin) has taken over the city. Using the chest, the reformed thief creates armies of men out of nothingness and recaptures the city. He then uses the cloak of invisibility to spirit the princess away on a magic carpet. Fairbanks stole some of the special effects for his film from Fritz Lang's Der Müde Tod, which he had purchased for American distribution. The Thief of Baghdad, with its look of unrealistic beauty (courtesy of art director William Cameron Menzies), was not fully appreciated in its day. Because of its huge cost (two million dollars -- a real fortune in those days), it made little money. After that, Fairbanks stuck closer to the swashbuckling persona he felt his audience wanted.

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Douglas Fairbanks
as The Thief of Bagdad
Julanne Johnston
as The Princess
Snitz Edwards
as His Evil Associate
Anna May Wong
as The Mongol Slave
Charles Belcher
as The Holy Man
as The Mongol Prince
K. Nambu
as His Counselor
Winter Blossom
as The Slave of the Lute
Etta Lee
as The Slave of the Sand Board
Brandon Hurst
as The Caliph
Tote Du Crow
as The Soothsayer
Noble Johnson
as The Indian Prince
Mathilde Comont
as The Persian Prince
Charles Stevens
as His Awaker
Sam Baker
as The Sworder
as His Couil Magician
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Critic Reviews for The Thief of Bagdad

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (24) | Rotten (1)

  • It is an entrancing picture, wholesome and beautiful, deliberate but compelling, a feat of motion picture art which has never been equaled and one which itself will enthrall persons time and again.

    Dec 6, 2014 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Feb 2, 2011 | Full Review…
    TIME Magazine
    Top Critic
  • Walsh's dynamism is evident in every frame of this deftly Americanized fantasy, beautifully designed by William Cameron Menzies.

    Oct 16, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Korda's version of 1940 has the quirks and the luscious colour, but this one has the electric energy.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Brown

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • One marvel after another

    Jun 24, 2015 | Full Review…
  • Technology may have changed drastically in the nearly 90 years since this movie was produced, but some things never go out of style.

    Dec 6, 2014 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Thief of Bagdad

  • May 15, 2016
    Wonderful fantasy adventure that was way ahead of its time.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Aug 05, 2014
    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 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.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Aug 17, 2013
    This 2.5-hour epic is still dazzling entertainment, despite a dated touch of anti-Asian racism. Douglas Fairbanks is a bit over the top with all his macho posing and grand arm gestures, but his charisma and wiry athleticism is spectacular. The mix of lavish sets and sharp matte paintings is a visual thrill, and the special effects are quite impressive for their time. The depictions of the magic rope and carpet are especially sharp, even if the wires holding up the carpet are often visible. The underwater sequence is also a lot of fun.
    Eric B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 26, 2013
    There is a reason why Douglas Fairbanks was such a great silent film performer..he just oozes charisma and wouldn't let something like words get in his way. It stands the test of time in the era of talkies and is such fun to watch.
    John B Super Reviewer

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