The Thief of Bagdad is a 1924 American swashbuckler film directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Douglas Fairbanks. 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 Bagdad. 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”.
Fairbanks considered this to be the favorite of his films, according to his son. The imaginative gymnastics suited the athletic star, whose “catlike, seemingly effortless” movements, were as much dance as gymnastics. Along with his earlier Robin Hood (1922), the film marked Fairbanks’s transformation from genial comedy to a career in “swashbuckling” roles. The movie, strong on special effects of the period (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.
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