The Thief of Bagdad (1924 film)

The Thief of Bagdad is a 1924 American silent swashbuckler film directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Douglas Fairbanks, and written by Achmed Abdullah and Lotta Woods. Freely adapted from One Thousand and One Nights, it tells the story of a thief who falls in love with the daughter of the Caliph of Baghdad. In 1996, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[2][3]

The Thief of Bagdad
Directed byRaoul Walsh
Screenplay byAchmed Abdullah
Lotta Woods
Story byDouglas Fairbanks
Produced byDouglas Fairbanks
StarringDouglas Fairbanks
Snitz Edwards
Charles Belcher
Julanne Johnston
Anna May Wong
CinematographyArthur Edeson
Edited byWilliam Nolan
Music byMortimer Wilson
Douglas Fairbanks Pictures
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • March 18, 1924 (1924-03-18)
Running time
140 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)
Box office$3 million (U.S. and Canada rentals)[1]
The Thief of Bagdad

Fairbanks considered this to be the favorite of his films, according to his son.[4] The imaginative gymnastics suited the athletic star, whose "catlike, seemingly effortless" movements were as much dance as gymnastics.[5] Along with his earlier Robin Hood (1922), the film marked Fairbanks's transformation from genial comedy to a career in "swashbuckling" roles.[6] The film, strong on special effects (flying carpet, magic rope and fearsome monsters) and featuring massive Arabian-style sets, also proved to be a stepping stone for Anna May Wong, who portrayed a treacherous Mongol slave.

The Thief of Bagdad is now widely considered one of the great silent films and Fairbanks's greatest work. Fairbanks biographer Jeffrey Vance writes, "An epic romantic fantasy-adventure inspired by several of the Arabian Nights tales, The Thief of Bagdad is the greatest artistic triumph of Fairbanks's career. The superb visual design, spectacle, imaginative splendor, and visual effects, along with his bravura performance (leading a cast of literally thousands), all contribute to making this his masterpiece."[7]

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