An absolute gem of an adventure film, full of exoticism, fantasy, irony and special effects
This film was made at a time when Italian cinema was capable of challenging Hollywood when it came to spectacular adventures. If somebody tried to do it today, they would be considered crazy. Il ladro di Bagdad (The Thief of Baghdad) takes a story from the Arabian Nights and gives us a fresh, charming and exciting mix of adventure, exoticism and fantasy, in the style of the American classics featuring Douglas Fairbanks. The muscle is provided by Steve Reeves, who played Hercules in the sword and sandal epics. Here he shows a tongue-in-cheek side, with moments of pure comedy gold. The special effects add a nostalgia-tinged charm to proceedings, with cloaks of invisibility, flying on Pegasus’s back, and deadly trees with a life of their own. The directing duties were shared by Italian Bruno Vailati (director of La battaglia di Maratona) and American Arthur Lubin, who also directed the Universal-produced Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. The Thief of Baghdad, distributed in the USA by MGM, is a timeless classic.