The Thief of Bagdad (yes, Baghdad is misspelled) is a Raoul Walsh directed picture featuring Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. in one of the many swashbuckling roles that made him a hugely successful star in the silent era. The film was regarded by Fairbanks as the favorite of the films he ever starred in, and it’s easy to see why; the film contains just about everything that really made a Fairbanks picture, and this it is good representation for the man on the Must See list. I can’t say too much about the film itself, though; it comes across as a very stylistic one-trick pony, concerned only with Fairbanks and very little else.
The cinematography isn’t, really; Even with the use of colored frames like other silents of its time, the whole thing is still very muted and washed out, and mostly sepia toned. The camerawork as well seems mostly there to make full use of whatever size frame Fairbanks needs for whichever stunt he’s performing at the moment. And speaking of which, the whole film pretty much feels like a vehicle for Fairbanks and his acrobatic prowess; whether he’s climbing or jumping or dashing around, there is always stuff for Fairbanks to do, and that’s mostly the point of the film. The story is very telegraphed, as it’s mostly just a means to an end; Fairbanks being Fairbanks is the real show here.
I should probably close by mentioning the one thing I did find spectacular about the film; the production value. The sets are gigantic and vast, and dressed to perfection, and the camera’s rather basic setups manage to capture the grandeur of them immensely. If nothing else, Fairbanks’ antics and the splendor of the production itself will make do for entertainment, though the film is admittedly long and thus bears the chance of wearing thin after a while. Still, it does have some impressive sequences, and if you’re willing to give it a go, rest assured it does get better as the film goes on, and there is always plenty to see.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10