Carefree Ahmed the Thief must endure various fantastic adventures to woo the beautiful Princess away from the villianous Mongol Prince. Features score from original cue sheets by organist Gaylord Carter.
"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, www.mont-alto.com. 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. Be wary of other editions -- it's an amazing film, and the extra money spent for a quality visual and audio treat is well worth it. The difference in run-time between the Kino and Image editions of the film is mostly explained by a different film transfer rate."
Outlaw all post-release editing.
David L. Nagy | Sydney, New South Wales Australia | 09/04/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)
"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!"
Simply Great- Kino Deluxe Edition
Fernando Silva | Santiago de Chile. | 09/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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!"
Happiness Must Be Learned
Mr Peter G George | Ellon, Aberdeenshire United Kingdom | 05/11/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Thief of Bagdad is one of the more famous silent films. It is also one of the very best. Many people find silent films difficult. This is not surprising for they have a style all of their own. The conventions of silent acting and storytelling are unlike anything seen today. Moreover these films demand more of the viewer by way of interpretation, for the lack of dialogue creates a sort of space for the viewer's imagination to fill up. The original silent cinemagoers were used to this, but today silent cinema must be learned.It is for this reason that The Thief of Bagdad is a wonderful introduction to silent cinema. The motto of the film is `Happiness must be earned' and this fits in well with the task facing the modern viewer. Enjoyment of the film must also be earned. With a film like The Thief of Bagdad however, this task is not arduous. Certainly it is not as hard as the tasks facing Douglas Fairbanks as he seeks to make himself worthy of his princess. This film is wonderfully enjoyable, for it has an exciting story with special effects which still look amazing. The sets are stunning and look enormous. This would all be for nothing however, if the film were all spectacle, if we did not care about the characters. Douglas Fairbanks is a superb thief, bringing his trademark humour and athleticism to the role. Julanne Johnston is a beautiful princess hiding demurely behind her lacy veil. The film also has great villains with Sojin a particularly wicked Mongol prince out to get Johnston, while Anna May Wong schemes to aid him.The Image DVD edition of this film is produced by David Shepard and it looks wonderful. The print is tinted in a variety of subtle colours and is clear and sharp. There is some occasional damage where the negative has decayed but this is rarely distracting. The film is accompanied by a fine organ score performed by Gaylord Carter. This music is moody and at times haunting. It fits in very well with the action. Some video editions of the Thief of Bagdad run 155 minutes while the DVD only runs 139 minutes. I suspect that this is a matter of frame speed and that the DVD runs slightly faster than the VHS."
Probably the best silent fantasy picture made in the U.S.
Fernando Silva | 03/24/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At the time of its release, Thief of Bagdad, was the most expensive and most elaborate film created. It involved enormous sets and special effects which would be rivaled for years. The story has it all: action, adventure, love, and friendship. And it tells it all on a grand scale which can still be impressive 70+ years later.Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., plays the Thief in an extremely sensual (though, not overtly sexual) way. He is very physically agile and innovative as he meanders through the streets of Bagdad using his wits to take what he wants with a minimum of effort.The set designs for the film were done by William Cameron Menzies (sp?) and appear almost as pen and ink drawings in the black and white film. They make you feel as if you have entered a story book telling you of the Thief and his love for the Princess.This DVD version has a nice organ accompaniment. It would be nicer to have the version which was released on LD with a full symphony performing Rimsky-Korsokov's Arabian Nights music. The music, tinting and introduction by Fairbanks' son made that the *definitive* version of the film for me."