The Thief of Bagdad 1924

This post is part of the Fairy Tale Blogathon hosted by Movies Silently.

Please note this post contains SPOILERS!

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The Thief of Bagdad is a 1924 silent film starring Douglas Fairbanks. It is a timeless, epic masterpiece. It is also an Arabian Nights Fantasy about an extraordinary adventure by a thief who finds redemption when he falls in love with a beautiful Princess. The movie cost over one million dollars to make and included lavish sets and special effects that were amazing for their time.

On a street in Bagdad a thief is stealing from men drinking from a fountain. His philosophy is what he wants he takes.

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He steals a magic rope made from witches’ hair. With the owner in pursuit the thief jumps from one large jug to another. He uses the rope to escape through a window of a mosque.

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In far Eastern Asia a Mongol Prince plans to take the city of Bagdad by marrying the Princess. What he wants he takes. He plans to enter the city as a suitor. He will take the city any way he can.

At the palace of the Caliph the thief plans to enter the city walls with the magic rope to steal treasures. Once inside he finds a sleeping Princess (Julanne Johnston) and he is captivated by her. The Mongol slave girl (Anna May Wong) finds him but he gets away.

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The next morning suitors line up to seek the hand of the princess for marriage. A slave girl reads the princess’ fortune. It says she will wed the suitor who first touches the rose tree in the garden. The thief plans to enter the palace as a suitor, drug the Princess and carry her away. As the suitors arrive the Princess watches to see if they touch the rose tree. The Prince of the Indies she doesn’t like. She doesn’t like the Prince of Persia either. The Prince of Mongols (who is masterfully played by Sojin Kamiyama) is sinister and scary looking. When the thief arrives as Ahmed, Prince of the Isles of Seas and the Seven Palaces she hopes he touches the rose tree. The Mongol slave tells the Mongol Prince about the fortune. As he goes to touch the tree the thief’s horse throws him into the rose bush first.

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Later the thief climbs up to the Princess’ room. He has fallen in love with her and is unable to drug her with a rose.

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In the Throne Room the suitors have gathered. Here we find out the Princess has chosen the thief to wed. The thief has a heavy conscious and tells the princess he is not a prince but a thief. “What I wanted to take I took. I wanted you – I tried to take you.” “But when I held you in my arms – the very world did change. The evil in me died.” She tells him she loves him. Meanwhile the Mongol Prince reveals to all in the Throne Room that the Prince is actually a thief. The guards come to take the thief away and he is flogged. The Princess saves him by giving a pearl to every guard to keep him safe. Her father now wants her to choose again. She buys time by sending the suitors out to seek rare treasures. When they return by the seventh moon she will marry the one who brings back the rarest treasure. The thief’s sidekick (Snitz Edwards) tells him of this hunt for treasure.

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The Holy man tells the thief he can become a Prince and tells me of a great treasure. This begins the amazing journey of the thief to find a magic chest that holds great magic.

Meanwhile, the Mongol Prince is building an army within the palace walls.

On his journey the thief meets a hermit along the way. He first encounters the Valley of Fire where he races through the flames. By the third moon he reaches the Valley of Monsters where he fights a huge monster.

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The thief reaches the Cavern of Enchanted Trees where he receives a chart to give to the old man of the midnight seas. By the fifth moon he makes it to the old man of the midnight seas where he dives to the bottom of the ocean to retrieve a box with a key. He fights a very large spider and is tempted by sirens but remembers his love for the Princess. The next stop on his journey is the Abode of the Winged Horse. He flies the sky until he reaches the Citadel of the Moon. Here he finds the chest and an invisibility cloak.

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While the thief is on his incredible journey the Persian Prince finds a magic rug, the Prince of the Indies finds a magic crystal and the Mongol Prince finds a magic apple. The Mongol Prince has his slave girl poison the Princess so he can bring her back to life. The three Princes rush back to Bagdad on the magic carpet.

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After the Mongol Prince saves the Princess he takes the city over and plans to marry her. The thief rushes back to the city where he creates an army with his magic box. He saves the city from the Mongol Prince and uses the cloak of invisibility to save the Princess. They fly away on the magic carpet. Through his bravery happiness was earned.

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The moral of the story is….

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12 Responses to The Thief of Bagdad 1924

  1. Thank you so much for the write-up of this gorgeous film. Every dollar spent shows up on the screen, no?

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  2. This looks like a beautiful film, one I must see! And – hooray! I see it on YouTube. Thanks for the recommendation.

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  3. Joe Thompson says:

    I always recommend this one to people, although the projection speed makes a big difference in how it goes over. Played at 16fps, it drags. At 24 it skips right along. Thanks for writing about and for sharing with all of us.

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  4. A movie and a a fable for all ages. I attended a screening of this once where there were a number of children in the audience and they were a buzz with excitement when the lights went up.

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    • Michele says:

      It really does reach all audiences. It’s great to hear children enjoyed it. It’s not easy for some audiences of today young or old to be able to sit through a silent movie.

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  5. girlsdofilm says:

    Such a classic. I actually re-watched parts of this while writing my post on A Thousand and One Nights (I do think Thief is the superior film!). The elaborate costumes draw me in every time but it’s also a compelling story too. Great post!

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  6. Lea S. says:

    This film is gorgeous, and I like the special effects. They’re very much of the time, of course, but that’s part of the appeal and also part of the otherworldly “fairytale” aspect.

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  7. Hello Michele. I found you through the Fairy Tale Blogathon and I’m so glad I did, you have a wonderful blog!

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  8. vp19 says:

    It’s indeed a wondrous film, full of Fairbanks’ spirit and vigor. BTW, Michele, thanks for following my blog, Carole & Co. (http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/).

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