The Thief of Bagdad (1940)


Starts off amiably and with a spring in its step – the Technicolor backstory is interesting, and it’s pretty funny at times, mostly intentionally. The hokiness of the whole thing befits a genial fish-out-of-water tale. But then we get caught back up to the present, the stakes increase, and we suddenly get thrown into the fantasy realm which expands the hokiness and makes it unpalatable.

The lightness of touch disappears and everything becomes a bit of a grind, the directors struggling to make the special effects come to life, and not really being able to join the different methods (models, superimposition etc) into a cohesive whole. Maybe a better clutch of set-pieces would have help gloss over the awkward effects, but they are pretty bog-standard, and the sword fights are look as if the actors were afraid to break a nail.

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