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The Thief of Bagdad (Restored Kino Edition) (Silent) 1924

NR

Highlighted by majestic set design by William Cameron Menzies, this is an awe-inspiring jaunt through exotic Arabia, with Douglas Fairbanks as a young pickpocket who must face supernatural challenges to win the heart of his beloved princess. Accompanied by a score by the Mont Alto Orchestra, this is the definitive version of Fairbanks's magical fantasy.

Starring:
Douglas Fairbanks, Snitz Edwards
Runtime:
2 hours, 31 minutes

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Douglas Fairbanks' "The Thief of Bagdad" is in the public domain, so it's no surprise that there are many DVD and VHS versions of this film available, from bargain basement tapes with no music taken from battered source prints, to high-quality editions with fine music and extras. (Many of the reviews given here are for different editions, so if they complain about the video transfer, missing scenes, or the musical score, keep in mind that such comments don't apply to all editions.)
The Kino "Deluxe Edition" is digitally mastered from a 35mm archive negative, with 19 minutes of rare outtakes and special effects footage as extras. The film is tinted throughout -- a color effect that was used on its initial release, and which adds greatly to the fantastic nature of the story and its immense sets.
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, [...]
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.
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Format: DVD
This is truly one the most spectacular films ever made, not suffering for having been made during the silent era. However, as correctly stated by another review of the film, the DVD version runs to 139mins as oppossed to the VHS 155mins. This is not due to DVD faster frame rate, but rather because the DVD version has had a huge portion of the film cut for no obvious reason. At one point, the Hero (Fairbanks) has fulfilled the prophecy of the princess and has been the first to touch the rose-tree, the next minute he is seen explaining to her (in an intimate scene) that he is not what he seems. Having seen the VHS a number of times, I can confirm that the DVD version has been brutally cut. Do not buy the DVD version, as it is a let-down with those scenes missing; thus the reason for my one star, which would otherwise have been 4 1/5 (5 stars with the Rimsky Korsakov soundtrack). You have been warned!
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Format: DVD
I haven't seen many silent films, but this must be the one of the greatest "fantasy" films of this period. I read it was made at an astonishing cost (for 1924, year of its release) U$ 2,5 millions!!? (It must have been filmdom's most expensive feature before the 1926 "Ben-Hur").

Douglas Fairbanks is in excellent shape & form, for the "athletic" part he has to play (at his "acrobatic" best-considering he was 40 years old when it was made); and embodies the hero (the thief of the title) perfectly, who is "redeemed" by the power of love (in the shape of a "languid" princess played by Julanne Johnston). The sets are just awesome & gorgeous (designed by the legendary William Cameron Menzies), plus deft direction by Raoul Walsh.

Great acting by Anna May Wong (as one of the princess' ladies in waiting) and SoJin (The Mongol Prince), who are perfect as the "villains" of the story.

The Kino DVD Release, brings a digital stereo orchestral new score, adapted from the original 1924 cue sheets, a great asset, plus a set of never before seen outtakes and special effects footage, excerpts of Paul Leni's "Waxworks" and George Méliès 1905 "Arabian Nights"...oh...., and a filmed "introduction" by Orson Welles himself.

Highly recommended for silent movie buffs and movie buffs in general, the story line & the plot is very different indeed from Zoltan Korda's classic 1940 same title masterpiece. This movie stands its own ground besides that other version. I have both and love them!!!

Beware of other inferior editions!
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Format: Blu-ray
It must be pointed out that this listing is for the beautiful new restoration on this Fairbanks classic done by Cohen Film Collection. The current reviews are for other versions. While I am sure the other versions have their merits, I was able to see the debut of this version at the TCM Film Festival in 2012 and can say with all confidence that this is the best version of the silent THIEF available. It is also the only version available on Blu-ray. According to the program notes, the restoration was done in 2K using two different negatives and it has new tints. While the TCM screening was accompanied by the always enjoyable Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra, this new home video version uses the wonderful Carl Davis score, which was commissioned in the 80's as part of the Thames Silents program in the UK. To the best of my knowledge, this score has been unavailable for decades and is really a cause for celebration. Anyone familiar with Davis' work (THE GENERAL, NAPOLEON, INTOLERANCE) will know that he really is one of the true masters of silent film scoring and his composition for THE THIEF OF BAGDAD is exceptional.

Fairbanks practically dances his way through the film, which is appropriate given that the Ballet Russe was a big influence on his production. William Cameron Menzies art direction and sets are astounding and it's great to be able to see them so clearly. The restoration really does justice to his work - not to mention Anna May Wong's beauty. Looking forward to hearing what Fairbanks scholar Jeffrey Vance has to say in the audio commentary. The Motion Picture Academy published his definitive book on Fairbanks and he also introduced the TCM screening. I've seen a number of behind-the-scenes stills on various silent films, so am hoping that the featurette will be as good as the restoration.
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