3 08 2009


THE THIEF OF BAGDAD premiered march 1924. it was the first major film for director RAOUL WALSH. DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS, superstar at that time, is the film’s main actor in the role as the thief, he co-wrote the script as well. in 2008 the AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE voted for the 155 min running time THIEF as one of the best FANTASY-films of all time. what stands out in this movie is the most superb fairytale world created by art director WILLIAM CAMERON MENZIES. menzie’s personal vision of this world can be followed from his first sketches right onto the screen. fairbanks gave menzies the job after he had seen a set of extraordinary detailed set drawings. menzies created the 1940 version of the THIEF as well, but is probably better known for his art direction for GONE WITH THE WIND. the built sets for ‘the thief of bagdad’ were huge and were extended even more by miniature sets using the SCHUFTAN-process, where the full scale set and the miniature is combined by using mirrors. the costume designs were created by MITCHELL LEISEN, who had to dress up to 3.000 extras a day. the following captured scenes give you an idea in case you haven’t seen this film yet.

thief of bagdad old w


set construction_thiefb4


© douglas fairbanks/united artists



3 responses

4 08 2009
Sunny Kharbanda

Simply masterful. It amazes me to see how boldly they explored a medium that had been around for twenty years.
Just like it pains me to see the waste of celluloid that makes up most of today’s cinema. It seems like they aren’t even trying.

7 08 2009
Jamie Metzger

Hans, thank you so much for posting these!! As soon as I saw these thumbnails I was inspired to pick up the film; however, I could only find the 1940s version, which wasn’t as compelling, but still worth it. I’ve been recently looking at Islamic art and architecture, and it seems the 1924 version really exemplifies it.

It was also very clear just how much Disney’s Aladdin was inspired by The Thief of Bagdad. All the way down to using the actual names of characters. Aladdin will never be the same. (It will still be a better story in my opinion, though.) It just shows how much research goes into each film.

Always inspiring, Hans.

from hans –
hi jamie, you can get the DVD from amazon for $ 8, here is the link

19 08 2009

i was watching this the other night with my four year old son beside me ! he was practically spellbound ! i had to read him the inter-titles, which made it kind of like a book … we LOVED IT ! great story twists, with the rose and all that …

but listen, we watched a dismal print with an awesome, orchestral score. did you pull the stills from the dvd you linked to ? because the quality of the image is great, but it has an organ score …

( from amazon )

The new score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra (a quintet that specializes in reviving music used during the silent film era) is based loosely on the original “cue sheet” for the film by James Bradford. This means that you’ll be hearing some of the music recommended for the film on its first release (although the music would have been different in each theater–silent film music was left up to the music director at each movie house). The music features many “oriental” pieces written for the silent film theater by forgotten “photoplay music” composers such as Gaston Borch and Irenee Berge, as well as pieces by classical composers like Rimsky-Korsakov who explored oriental themes. A written commentary and cue list of the music used is on the DVD as an extra, and can also be found at Mont Alto’s web site, http://www.mont-alto.com.

A different high-quality edition from Image Entertainment features an organ score by Gaylord Carter, who was a talented theater organist, and that’s also a good choice. Be wary of other editions — it’s an amazing film, and the extra money spent for a quality visual and audio treat is well worth it. The difference in run-time between the Kino and Image editions of the film is mostly explained by a different film transfer rate.

if the picture is the same then id recommend the score by the quintette.

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