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The Thief of Bagdad (The Criterion Collection) (1940)

Sabu , Conrad Veidt , Alexander Korda , Michael Powell  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)

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The Thief of Bagdad (The Criterion Collection) + Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (Universal Backlot Series) + Arabian Nights (Universal Cinema Classics)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Sabu, Conrad Veidt, Rex Ingram, Miki Hood, Allan Jeayes
  • Directors: Alexander Korda, Michael Powell
  • Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC, Restored, Full Screen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: May 27, 2008
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00152VXUS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,188 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Thief of Bagdad (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New digital transfer from restored film elements
  • Two audio commentaries from Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, an the other from Bruce Eder
  • Optional music and effects track
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Visual Effects, a documentary about the technical achievements of The Thief of Bagdad, featuring interviews with special-efffects masters Ray Harryhausen, Dennis Muren and Craig Barron
  • Excerpt from a 1976 radio interview with composer Miklos Rozsa
  • Stills gallery featuring rare images of the film's production and photos shot in Dufaycolo
  • Booklet featuring new essays by film scholars Andrew Moor and Ian Christie
  • The Lion Has Wings, a propaganda film for the English war effort

Editorial Reviews

Often hailed as the greatest fantasy film ever made, The Thief of Bagdad (1940) was producer Alexander Korda's crowning achievement. Deservedly winning Academy Awards for art direction, color cinematography, and special effects, this Arabian Nights adventure appeals to all ages with its fantastical tale of Abu (Sabu), the little thief who befriends the prince of Bagdad (John Justin) and foils the nefarious plans of the evil grand vizier (Conrad Veidt), who seizes control of Bagdad and covets the princess of Basra (Joan Duprez). From its gorgeous, epic-scale sets to flying horses, magic carpets, and, best of all, Rex Ingram's towering jinni of the bottle, this Thief has all the magic of the tales that inspired it, and vibrant Technicolor brings it all to life in dazzling style. Six esteemed directors worked on this infamously troubled production, but the final result exceeded all expectations, becoming an instant classic that endures to this day. --Jeff Shannon

Product Description

Legendary producer Alexander Korda's marvel The Thief of Bagdad, inspired by The Arabian Nights, is one of the most spectacular fantasy films ever made, an eye-popping effects pioneer brimming with imagination and technical wizardry. When Prince Ahmad (John Justin) is blinded and cast out of Bagdad by the nefarious Jaffar (Conrad Veidt), he joins forces with the scrappy thief Abu (the incomparable Sabu, in his definitive role) to win back his royal place, as well as the heart of a beautiful princess (June Duprez). With its luscious Technicolor, vivid sets, and unprecedented visual wonders, The Thief of Bagdad has charmed viewers of all ages for decades.

Special Features
* - New digital transfer, from restored film elements
* - Two audio commentaries: one featuring renowned directors Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, and one with film and music historian Bruce Eder
* - Visual Effects,, a documentary about the technical achievements of The Thief of Bagdad
* - The Lion Has Wings (1940), Alexander Korda's propaganda film for the English war effort, created when The Thief of Bagdad went into production hiatus
* - Excerpts from codirector Michael Powell's audio dictations for his autobiography
* - Excerpts from a 1976 radio interview with composer Miklos Rózsa
* - Stills gallery featuring rare images of the film's production and photos shot in Dufaycolor Optional music and effects track
* - Theatrical trailer
* - PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by film scholars Andrew Moor and Ian Christie

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
143 of 154 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars CRITERION VS MGM = THE EXACT SAME PRINT May 29, 2008
By stryper
Yep that's right, I own both the MGM and now the Criterion versions of, The Thief Of Bagdad, and after comparing the opening sequence (with the boats and the cityscape), the scene where the blind man is telling his story so far, to the harem girls (where there's slight blurring in the long shots as well as a slight over enhancement shimmer on the blind man's face) and the registration problem area (where Sabu meets the spider in the temple) the print used is exactly the same one, as both versions have the exact same problems in exactly the same areas.

As for the purported colour saturation differences between the two discs, from my close scrutiny of the movies, I'd have to say that there isn't any difference at all.

The reds look over saturated to the point where the Grand Vizier's turban bleeds slightly, the blues are sky blue bright, and the skin tones are coppery, which is true to the skin tones of the people populating this movie.

The real question now should be, why Criterion chose to release this film as is, without attempting to do any restoration?

I had thought that the reason for the exuberant prices of Criterion DVDs was because we where suppose to be getting the best possible prints of films, but in this case, we're giving the same print with some extras, and expected to pay 3 times the price of the MGM disc.

Also of note, the chapter selection is better on the MGM disc as there are pictures with the captions, where as the Criterion chapter select, is text only (something Anchor Bay did away with years ago, because it was too confusing, i.e. the Evil Dead DVD, "Evil dead attack", um, which evil dead attack, there are several, so the description is useless).
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great fantasy film in cinema history October 3, 2002
Few classic films demands or can benefit more from transfer to DVD than Alexander Korda's magnificent THE THIEF OF BAGDAD. At a time when British cinema lagged desperately behind Hollywood in technical proficiency, Korda was nothing short of a miracle worker. Although lacking the resources that Hollywood had to offer, Korda was able to produce a movie that stood up to the best of Hollywood in beauty, creativity, color, and fantasy. Two of the greatest fantasy films ever made appeared in 1939 and 1940: THE WIZARD OF OZ and THE THIEF OF BAGDAD.
There are two reasons that THE THIEF OF BAGDAD is a great film and has stood the test of time. The first is the tremendous art direction. The movie is a function of Korda's vision. French auteur criticism holds that the "author" of a film is the director, but this is clearly an exception to that. Korda, the producer, was the creative force behind this film, and, in fact, employed as many as a half dozen directors during the course of making the film. One of the uncredited directors and one of the credited art directors was the great William Cameron Menzies, regarded as one of the giants in art design in film history. Even today, this is a gorgeous film to look at, and in an age when computers can create absolutely anything on the screen, it is delightful to watch a film in which others managed to achieve magic working with considerably less than we possess.
The second reason that this film succeeds so marvelously is the cast. Ironically, the ostensible lead in the film is remarkably forgettable. But several of the other performances are quite unforgettable.
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58 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I want to be a bandit, can't you understand it?" February 9, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
What's that old saying? Too many cooks spoil the broth? In figurative terms it means if there are too many people working on a project, the result will be inferior...given the fact The Thief of Bagdad (1940) sports six directors, three credited, three uncredited, you'd think the film would be a mess, but it's actually the very opposite. The credited directors include Ludwig Berger (The Vagabond King), Michael Powell (Black Narcissus), and Tim Whelan (The Mad Doctor), while on the uncredited side there's three individuals, all whom share producing credits for the film in Alexander Korda (Storm Over the Nile), his brother Zoltan Korda (Jungle Book), and William Cameron Menzies (The Whip Hand). Starring in the film is Conrad Veidt (Casablanca), Sabu (Elephant Boy, Jungle Book), and John Justin (King of the Khyber Rifles). Also appearing is June Duprez (Little Tokyo, U.S.A.) and Rex Ingram (God's Little Acre) as the Genie, or Djinn,

As the film begins, we're introduced to a blind beggar named Ahmad (Justin), and his very intelligent dog, both of whom are more than they appear. Ahmad soon relates a tale, and we learn of a man who was once king, and how he became friends with a clever young thief from the streets named Abu, played by Sabu (see what they did? The just removed the `S' from Sabu to get Abu...pretty smart, huh?). We also learn of the king's downfall at the hands of Jaffar (Veidt), a greedy, dastardly fellow with a penchant for magics and trickery.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Dated classic
This one just doesn't hold up for me - and I am a classic film buff.... while sitting thru this I found myself wanting to watch Disney's Aladin. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Christopher
5.0 out of 5 stars He'll Steal Your Heart.
Great Rozsa music. Always on my top 100 list. Any Korda movie is a work of art. A MUST have.
Published 19 days ago by Mark M. Rubin
5.0 out of 5 stars CLASSIC MOVIE
Published 23 days ago by Andrew M. Swiatek
5.0 out of 5 stars Thief of Bagdad (1940)
A great old classic movie. I can remember, as a kid, going into the theaters--after paying my quarter to get in, and if I was lucky enough to have money left over, buying that... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Fred Di Francesco
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Movie
I love this tape. I grew up watching this movie and every time it was on I watched it. I work in an elementary school and I brought it in so some of the children could watch it... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Heather
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect
So excited and satisfied with the quality of the DVD, takes me back to when I was a little boy, I was in love with this movie and am still in love with it.
Published 3 months ago by Kahar Rashid
5.0 out of 5 stars "Master of a Thousand Fleas!"-A film for the whole family!
The Thief of Bagdad(released Dec/40)stars,among others,Conrad Veidt as Jaffar,Sabu as Abu,June Duprez as the Princess,John Justin as Ahmad and Rex Ingram as the Djinn. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Robert Badgley
5.0 out of 5 stars I was 11 years old when I saw this film.
I loved it at the movies; I am happy that I was able to purchase it and have it close at hand to play again and again!
Published 3 months ago by Betsy A. Fitzmeyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Transfer
The transfer of this classic color movie from 1940 is astounding. The movie itself is amazing with groundbreaking special effects, and this Criterion edition presents them like... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Roger Howerton
5.0 out of 5 stars Even After Seventy Years, this Classic Film Still Packs a Punch
The special effects of this classic fantasy might seem rudimentary by
today's standards, but THE THIEF OF BAGDAD is still wonderful
entertainment. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dr. Laurence Raw
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