The Thief of Bagdad

Alexander Korda's opulent Arabian Nights fantasy (1940) suffers from pallid performances and frequently succumbs to kitsch, but it still casts its fragile spell. The special effects—mostly a matter of matte painting and optical printing—may look quaint in their relative crudeness, but they have a naive enthusiasm and fancy mostly lacking in current techniques. The disjunctive visual style is a consequence of the three-man directorial team—Ludwig Berger, Tim Whelan, and Michael Powell, the latter being the only genuine stylist in the lot. With Conrad Veidt, John Justin, June Duprez, and the ineluctable Sabu. 106 min.

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