The Thief of Bagdad (1961)

THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1961)
(a.k.a. IL LADRO DI BAGDAD)
Article #1446 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-28-2005
Posting Date: 7-28-2005
Directed by Arthur Lubin and Bruno Vailati
Featuring Steve Reeves, Giorgia Moll, Arturo Dominici

A thief falls in love with the daughter of a sultan, and when she falls ill, he vows to recover a blue rose that will return her to health.

Given the fact that the movie was made in the early sixties, stars Steve Reeves, and features a plethora of Italian names in the cast and crew, you have every reason to believe that you’re going to be watching a bona fide Sword and Sandal movie when you go into this one. Indeed, the opening musical chord practically screams out this heritage. Nonetheless, there is something odd going on here. Somewhere along the line, somebody took special care with this one, either in the making of the original movie or in its preparation for American audiences. It simply doesn’t feel like a sword and sandal movie. For one thing, the music seems very well chosen throughout, rather than repetitively rousing. Secondly, there’s a genuine wit at work here; the movie has a strong and effective sense of humor totally unlike anything I’ve seen in these types of movies before, and a scene in which the thief robs several people in the main hall of the palace by disguising himself as a visiting prince and picking pockets while distributing gifts is clever by any standards. In short, this one is charming and a lot of fun. No, it doesn’t hold a candle to the 1940 or 1924 versions of the story, but it holds its own and is quite rewarding on those terms. It’s certainly worlds better than THE WONDERS OF ALADDIN at any rate.

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