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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Thief Of Bagdad (1924)

A daring and cunning thief (Douglas Fairbanks) maneuvers himself into the Caliph's palace with the intention of pillaging the palace treasures. But when he sets eyes on the royal Princess (Julanne Johnson), he falls hopelessly in love. But first, he must win her from the other marriage candidates including a devious Mongol Prince (Sojin Kamiyama) who plans on taking over Bagdad by force if he doesn't win the Princess. Directed by Raoul Walsh, this is one of the great swashbucklers and fantasy adventures of all time. The wiry and athletic Fairbanks (with probably the best physique in silent cinema) climbs, jumps, dashes and bounces around like an enthusiastic little monkey eager to please. Who can resist? The ensuing years haven't dimmed its charms. The only quibble I have, and it's a minor one, is the excessive length as in too much of a good thing. The exotic production design and art direction by William Cameron Menzies are imaginative and impressive. Some of the special effects are quite crude by today's standards but still captivating. The costumes are by Mitchell Leisen, who would go on to become the director of such classics as MIDNIGHT and HOLD BACK THE DAWN. With Snitz Edwards, Noble Johnson, Mathilde Comont and the great beauty, Anna May Wong.

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