The Thief of Bagdad

dir. Raoul Walsh

TIFF Cinematheque - Hollywood Classics

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A grinning, swashbuckling Douglas Fairbanks stars in this breathtaking Arabian Nights fantasia, one of the most expensive and elaborate films of the silent era.


A visual feast of enormous scale and exhilarating invention, The Thief of Bagdad returns to us in a spectacular new digital restoration, colour-tinted as in its lavish original. Topping every escapade with ever greater derring-do, Douglas Fairbanks, kitted out with hoop earring, sheer pantaloons, gypsy bandana and mile-wide smile, plays the swashbuckling robber who declares, "What I want, I take!" but finds himself in a fierce contest with an unscrupulous Mongol ruler when both men set out to win the Caliph of Bagdad's daughter; she will go to the man who brings the Caliph the most precious treasure after seven moons. One of the most expensive films of the silent era, Raoul Walsh's magic carpet ride is art-designed to the hilt and then some by William Cameron Menzies — though the film is Moorish in setting, its flamboyant sets include contemporary elements of art deco and Ballets Russes — and dazzles with all manner of special effects and elaborate settings: flying carpets and airborne horses, fiery caverns and monster-stalked valleys. "Great! It's a film that has lost none of its power to enchant!" (London Film Festival).

Featuring orchestral soundtrack score by Carl Davis.