The Thief of Bagdad

As glorious as any adventure film ever made, producer Alexander Korda’s The Thief of Bagdad is both lush and playful, a fairy tale with gasping suspense. The story of the prince of Bagdad (John Justin) who is imprisoned by the evil ”Grand Vizier” Jaffar (the devilish Conrad Veidt) and aided by a street-thief scamp, Abu (the 15-year-old Sabu), Thief glows with brilliant colors in this new two-disc Criterion edition. The movie has three credited directors — Michael Powell (who would go on to his own remarkably diverse directing career, which included Peeping Tom), Tim Whelan, and Ludwig Berger — and went through a tumultuous production, as discussed in a commentary track by film historian Bruce Eder and a detail-packed booklet essay by Andrew Moor. There is also an enchanting commentary with directors Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, who talk about how Thief entranced them as children, and who can now analyze the film’s enduring charms and point out moments of moviemaking magic. Those include Abu’s release of a gigantic genie from a bottle, one of the numerous then-groundbreaking special effects that are analyzed in yet another enthralling extra. This is truly a DVD release for all ages, and a film for the ages. A

The Thief of Bagdad
  • Movie
  • 106 minutes