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Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves
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78 of 78 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Back in the 1940s, Jon Hall and Maria Montez carved out their own little niche in cinema by teaming up for a handful of nifty fantasy and action adventure films (Arabian Nights (Universal Cinema Classics), WHITE SAVAGE, COBRA WOMAN, etc.), these under the Universal Pictures banner and featuring elements of sword, sand, and sandal. ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES, coming out in 1944, simply exudes this aroma of "remember when" and showcases Jon Hall at his most dashing and Maria Montez's lovely exotic looks. We just won't talk about her acting.

Interestingly, the film does away with the traditional magical trappings (excepting one enchanted phrase) and instead places this story in actual historical context, sometime in the 13th century. Driven back by the conquering Hugalu Khan's swarming Mongol hordes, the Caliph of Baghdad and his child Ali suffer the foulest of betrayals. The Caliph loses his life in an ambush, but the boy Ali slips away and goes into hiding. Stumbling in the desert, Ali meets and comes under the protection of forty far-ranging thieves. In the thieves' cavernous hideaway den, Ali Baba grows to young adulthood, at which time he sets out to overthrow Hugalu Khan and regain freedom for his people and also, in his spare moments, maybe win the heart of a beautiful princess (who, by the way, is bethrothed to the Khan).

There's a warm place in my heart for these spirited old-fashioned adventures on the big screen, stuff that I used to thrill to as a hyper kid on those lazy Sunday afternoons. In watching Hall and Montez's films the audience came to nurse a certain threshhold of expectation. The acting came and went, with Jon Hall mostly serviceable as the male lead, and I don't know that these two demonstrated that much of a spark together, despite the flowery dialogue ("Strange are the fortunes of war which placed a thief beside the Khan's beloved."). But, somehow, Universal kept pairing them up in these things, and it worked. ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES belongs to that era when rugged horse-riding thieves sang songs and no one made fun, and the rousing score rose to a crescendo every fifteen minutes or so. There were the colorful exotic costumes and the fancy stilted script and the promise of high adventure in far away places. The sword, the sand, the sandals. As a kid I loved the derring-do in the desert, the sword fight clashes, the daring rescue at the market place, and that old Trojan Horse trick. I hissed at the despicable villains and even had a soft touch for the corny romance, of which origins spooled back to Ali's early youth and the pledge he made to a young princess. Back when I saw this decades ago, even comedy relief Andy Devine seemed to blend in as Abdullah, one of Ali Baba's stalwart thieves, although, nowadays, it's a bit jarring, hearing Devine's distinctive catchy-croaky-drawly voice trying to do justice to lines like "Me, Abdullah? The Terror of Bagdad, nurse to a whimpering infant?" It's also kinda funny that Ali's henchmen tend to pronounce his name closer to "Ollie" than "Ali."

But, mostly, I look at this movie now, thru old decrepit eyeballs, and I brush aside the flaws. Mostly, I remember the fluttering crimson kafiyas and powder blue robes of the forty thieves and the ringing cries of "Open, oh sesame!" as they once more seek sanctuary inside that treasure-laden cave. Hall and Montez's movies never attained the heights of The Thief of Bagdad - Criterion Collection or The Adventures of Robin Hood (Two-Disc Special Edition), but neither were they meant to. New generations of viewers will look at ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES and may dismiss it as nothing more than a dusty old cinematic relic. For me, though, it's a savory cup of nostalgia and the memories it jolts back remind me of just how good I had it when I was a kid.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2009
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
The DVD transfer is very good. The original Technicolor is well preserved. The detail is all there and the richly colored costumes show up just as brilliant as the first screenings of the film.

The evil leader of the Mongol Horde, the Haluga Khan (Kurt Katch) overruns Baghdad with the aid of Prince Cassim (Frank Puglia). The good Caliph (Moroni Olsen) is killed but his son Ali (protrayed later in adulthood by Jon Hall) escapes to find the secret cave of the 40 theives. He is immediately taken in by Al Baba, the older, who adopts Ali, hence the name Ali Baba. 10 years later, enter the Lady Amara (the beautiful Maria Montez). Ali falls in love with her thinking her only a slave girl. Meanwhile, Amara'a father, Prince Cassim, has offered Khan the lovely lady's hand in a political marriage. Ali Baba, now leader of the 40 thieves is determined to free the Lady Amara and drive the evil Khan from Baghdad.

We see some incredible horsemanship from the 40 thieves as they ride through the streets of Baghdad at breakneck speed. We also see that these are singing thieves as their song proclaims they steal from the rich and give to the poor. We get dancing mongols waving sabers and a great sword fight between the thieves and the mongols. Humor is supplied by Andy Devine as Abdullah, 1 of the thieves.

There is some mild violence, no gore or graphic violence so a little parental guidance is probably needed for kids under 7 but kids 7 to 13 should enjoy this film very much. Parents too!

High recommendation for: families with kids, grownup kids, movie fans, Maria Montez and Jon Hall fans, and anyone looking for a little good old escapism. This is really good Universal classic film.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2000
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
(Action/Adventure, 1 hr 27 min, Technicolor) Universal - U.S.A.
DIRECTOR: Arthur Lubin
CAST: Scotty Beckett, Turhan Bey, Andy Devine, Jon Hall, Frank Puglia, Kurt Katch, Maria Montez (As: Amara)
COMMENTS: This Arabian Nights fantasy follows the exploits of the Caliph of Baghdad's son, who runs off into the desert after his father is killed by raiding Mongols.
There he encounters the legendary 40 thieves and watches in amazement as their command, "Open Sesame," magically parts a solid rock wall, revealing a cavernous hiding place filled with treasures.
He is adopted by the thieves, dubbed "Ali Baba," and grows up to be their leader. As an adult, Ali sets out to avenge his father's death and to free his land from the reigning Mongols.
The film is set in the ancient Middle East. Maria Montez stars as Amara, a Baghdad beauty, who is one of the main reasons of the fight between the Mongol Khan Hulagu and Ali Baba.
In this time, Maria demonstrated that she will never accept to do scenes or scene parts against her will. For instance, the director Arthur Lubin tried to convince her of appearing naked inside of a pool, the problem was solved when Lubin accepted to put her in a bubble bath.
Before beginning working in the most popular and commercial movie of its time, Maria said to the media: "According to my horoscope, the name I will have in this movie will not augur me success."
The producers thought Montez wanted to change the name they assigned her and they allowed her to do so.
The actress Miriam Colón, from Puerto Rico, appeared in this film, but she was not credited in the cast.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2007
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Hopefully Universal will do an official, remastered release of this title soon (let's hope "Arabian Nights" sells!). Until then, this is a very nice transfer of an un-restored but very clean Technicolor print. Missing only the open and closing titles (and Sabu, who is listed on the cover art and does NOT appear in the film!), this is a well-crafted piece of escapist adventure, with Maria Montez in full Technicolor bloom (and giving what is for her an above-average performance). Snappy direction and an able supporting cast made this a delightful purchase. Now, Universal, how about "Cobra Woman"...
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
"OPEN, OH, SESAME"
the tales of the arabian knights, the stories of Ali Baba, the beauty of
Maria Montez, this was a motion picture that i first saw in the 1960's.
along with a double bill of Arabian Knights, or something like that, also
starring Jon Hall. Jon Hall, famous for "Ramar, of the Jungle", so i'm
an eclectic collector. i know what i like, and what i enjoy.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
I had a VHS copy of this movie I had taped off the TV a long time ago. I was happy to find this South Korean import--the only DVD of this movie that is possible to obtain. Overall the clarity and quality of tranfer is good. Definately a far better improvement over any VHS version.

The movie itself is full of action and very entertaining, espesially for a 1944 movie. The colors are nice. I noticed that outdoor photography at night tend to be a little dark- probably from the movie itself and the usage of dark filter while shooting in daylight to stimulate nighttime. Other than that, indoor scenes are beautiful and bright as well as outdoor daylight scenes.

Overall, It is not a perfect edition of the movie, but it is the only DVD version of it that I know that is obtainable for a higher price--that is until Universal Studio decide to do a special restoration and release it on DVD sometime in the future?

I rated the movie itself 5 stars, the transfer 3 for missing opening and ending credits.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2009
Format: DVD
I've always been a huge fan of Arabian Nights tales and no matter what age you are they always provide (even if it is only for an hour and a half) a much needed release from the stresses of life. Those exotic tales of far away places populated by beautiful damsels in distress just waiting to be rescued by dashing princes seem to have always been favourites with general audiences of every decade too. Certain performers such as Sabu and Turhan Bey are automatically associated with this genre of film making however on the "B" movie level one of the most loved screen teams in this field in the 1940's were Maria Montez and Jon Hall. Paired in a number of colour filled and exotic escapist yarns far from any reality audiences would ever know, they were the perfect medicine for wartime audiences trying to escape the harsh realities currently being played out in the real world. Maria Montez had the exotic looks that combined perfectly with the very masculine and virile appearance of Jon Hall and despite the limitations of each's acting skills the pair struck an immediate cord with audiences in exotically titled films such as "Arabian Nights", "White Savage", "Sudan" and especially in their biggest hit together "Cobra Woman" (badly needing to be released on DVD!). Here we have one of their best teamings in Universal's lavish "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" made right at the peak of their popularity and it's easy to see from this production the great faith that Universal Studios had in this acting team. It is a wonderfully lavish production filled with grand sets, a stirring musical score, breathtaking costumes and hundreds of extras all rolled up in a hugely enjoyable romp never for one moment to be taken seriously which is the best way to enjoy it. I have a great affection for this childhood favourite and this superb "Universal Backlot Series" DVD release of the film certainly does it proud.

The storyline as in most of these tales is pure hokum of course which is partly what makes it such fun. After being driven out of Baghdad when his father the Caliph of Bagdad is ruthlessly betrayed and killed young Ali (Scotty Beckett) is forced to flee and finds refuge with the famous "forty thieves" who have a treasure filled cave as their headquarters and are determined to drive out the Mongol Khan (Kurt Katch) who is inflicting terror on their country. Ali grows to manhood (transforming into Jon Hall in the process!) and he sets out with the help of the forty thieves to revenge his father's death by ridding Baghdad of the evil Khan and winning back the hand of his childhood friend, the beautiful Princess Amara (Maria Montez) who has been tricked by her traitor of a father into marrying the Khan against her will. Real Saturday matinee fare is the best way to sum up the appeal of "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves". Of course no one in the cast looks even remotely Middle Eastern (gravel voiced Andy Devine playing an arab thief called Abdullah??) and everyone looks a little too well scrubbed for a story taking place in the desert but put the logistics aside and you are sure to be swept away by this rousing tale. Maria Montez certainly earned her famous title as "The Queen of Technicolour" in this epic and by the time this film came along she and Jon Hall, aided by Turhan Bey in another of his exotic roles, were a well oiled team who combined perfectly together on screen.

Universal's new DVD line being released under the title "Universal Backlot Series" is proving to be sensational in bringing some very obscure and hard to come by movies from the 1930's and '40's back into the spotlight. Although "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" has been previously released on DVD, this new edtion is really wonderful and a definite improvement over the older release with great care taken on the overall restoration of the film. Colours seem much brighter and vivid and the rousing musical score has never sounded better. In fact the film as presented on this disc couldn't be faulted as it looks like it was made yesterday. The only drawback to this DVD release is the sad lack of any extras to make this deluxe presentation complete. I would have liked for example to have seen a documentary prepared about the screen team of Maria Montez and Jon Hall and the impact they had on audiences in the 1940's complete with some biographical information on both performers as well. I'm also a big fan of the wonderfully talented Turhan Bey and I feel he is also long overdue for a proper retrospective on his highly successful career in Universal's fantasy and horror films throughout the 1940's. This would have made another great extra for inclusion on this disk. Despite this short fall however all lovers of these Universal fantasy films like myself should be very pleased here and the obvious care that has gone into restoring the film makes me hope that more of the Montez/Hall teamings, especially the camp classic "Cobra Woman" will see a DVD release sometime in the near future. While not acting "Oscar" material "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" is great escapist entertainment and it's excitng to see the film returned to all its gaudy technicolour splendour in Universal's new DVD release in their "Universal Backlot Series". Enjoy!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2009
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This is another pairing of Maria Montez and Jon Hall in the Universal series of Arabian Nights-type action and adventure films. The plot is slight (who cares?) but we have the most gorgeous Technicolor ever, with the babelicous Maria Montez! The music is quite good, and the overall effect is quite a handsome film. I recommend it for nice escapist entertainment. I hope Universal Home Video releases the rest of the Hall/Montez series -- they are well worth your viewing time!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2006
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
aka Al? Bab? & los 40 Ladrones

(Action/Adventure, 1 hr 27 min, Technicolor)

Universal - U.S.A.

DIRECTOR:

Arthur Lubin

CAST:

Scotty Beckett, Turhan Bey, Andy Devine, Jon Hall, Frank Puglia, Kurt Katch, Maria Montez (As: Amara)

COMMENTS:

This Arabian Nights fantasy follows the exploits of the Caliph of Baghdad's son, who runs off into the desert after his father is killed by raiding Mongols.

There he encounters the legendary 40 thieves and watches in amazement as their command, "Open Sesame," magically parts a solid rock wall, revealing a cavernous hiding place filled with treasures.

He is adopted by the thieves, dubbed "Ali Baba," and grows up to be their leader. As an adult, Ali sets out to avenge his father's death and to free his land from the reigning Mongols.

The film is set in the ancient Middle East. Maria Montez stars as Amara, a Baghdad beauty, who is one of the main reasons of the fight between the Mongol Khan Hulagu and Ali Baba.

In this time, Maria demonstrated that she will never accept to do scenes or scene parts against her will. For instance, the director Arthur Lubin tried to convince her of appearing naked inside of a pool, the problem was solved when Lubin accepted to put her in a bubble bath.

Before beginning working in the most popular and commercial movie of its time, Maria said to the media: "According to my horoscope, the name I will have in this movie will not augur me success."

The producers thought Montez wanted to change the name they assigned her and they allowed her to do so.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2009
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This is in color and in perfect condition, remember its before Robin Hood and if you go way back as a kid growing up in Brooklyn this is for you this high quality movie....kevin
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