The Thief of Bagdad

The Thief of Bagdad

Synopsis of Movie

“I am Abu the thief. Son of Abu the thief. Grandson of Abu the thief.”

This Technicolor remake of Douglas Fairbanks’ 1924 Arabian adventure was a spectacularly elaborate affair. More expensive than the previous year’s Gone With the Wind, The Thief of Bagdad employed lavish sets and stunning special effects in creating one of the screen’s most memorable fantasies.

Indian actor Sabu plays the title role, a thief named Abu, whose pilfering gets him thrown into a Bagdad dungeon. There he meets young Prince Ahmad, who has been deposed from his rightful throne by a power-mad vizier named Jaffar. With Abu’s help, the Prince escapes and falls in love with the beautiful Princess of Basra.

Jaffar has his eye on the girl, too, and the wily vizier keeps the girl’s sultan father occupied with mechanical gadgets as he tries to win her hand. When Ahmad interferes, Jaffar blinds him and turns Abu into a dog. Eventually, Abu regains his rightful form, but Jaffar has taken the Princess captive aboard a sailing vessel. Abu and Ahmad give chase, encountering a powerful genie, a giant spider, an All-Seeing Eye and a flying carpet along the way to a mystical showdown.

Brimming with intrigue, exotic flavor and fantastic sights, The Thief of Bagdad was pure escapist fantasy, though the actual production had been less than fantastic. Producer Alexander Korda went through a string of six directors as the filming dragged on over nearly two years. The start of World War II forced the production to relocate from England to America, and certain Arabian scenes had to be dropped.

The struggle paid off in the end, as The Thief of Bagdad earned acclaim from both audiences and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, winning Oscars for its art direction, cinematography and special effects. The film’s impact continued to be felt decades later, as Disney borrowed heavily from Korda’s creation in making its own Arabian Nights tale, and the animated Aladdin.

Movie Release History

1940 - The Thief of Bagdad

Movie Sub Categories


Movie Studio

London Film Prods.


Abu Sabu
Jaffar Conrad Veidt
Princess June Duprez
Ahmad, the King John Justin
Djinn Rex Ingram
Old Sultan Miles Malleson
Old King Morton Selten
Halima Mary Morris
Ten Armed Goddess Mary Morris
Merchant Bruce Winston
Astrologer Hay Petrie
Singer Adelaide Hall
Jailer Roy Emerton
Storyteller Allan Jeayes

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