The Thief of Bagdad

The Thief of Bagdad exists on the dream side of spectacle, with its elaborate magical effects filmed on lavish sets designed by William Cameron Menzies after the German superproductions that so impressed producer Douglas Fairbanks. Its pace is graceful and natural, and Fairbanks himself is less the all-American acrobat than the ballet dancer. The story of a thief who pretends to be a prince and then must act accordingly has its humor built in, and young Raoul Walsh's direction plays right into the self-parodying antics of Fairbanks. (As the Mongol Khan, played by the fascinating So-Jin, is about to escape with the Princess, our dubious hero is enjoying a tickertape parade through the city.) More than anything, the star here is magic-the magic of humor and the magic of the cinema-which triumphs over the evils in which our lively imaginations are wont to dwell.

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