There have been several films titled The Thief of Bagdad or some variation thereof (some of them inserting the “h” of the modern spelling), but there are only two to have garnered any significant critical acclaim. As it happens, the ones receiving the acclaim were the first two adaptations. The first, released in 1924, stars Douglas Fairbanks and is a monochromatic (yet not strictly black-and-white) silent film; the second, in 1940, is a technicolor talkie featuring Conrad Veidt as the villain. The 1924 film has been inducted into the National Film Registry, and is #9 on the AFI’s top 10 fantasy films. The 1940 film won three Oscars for its art direction, cinematography, and special effects.
Both films are roughly adapted from stories in 1001 Arabian Nights. So how do these cinematic classics stack up against each other? How are they similar, and what are the differences? And, of course, we have to ask: Which one is more enjoyable for the modern audience? Continue reading