Saturday, July 25, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

The classic adventure film ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES (1944) was released on Blu-ray last week by Kino Lorber.

Like ARABIAN NIGHTS (1942), another new Kino Lorber release reviewed here two weeks ago, ALI BABA stars Jon Hall, Maria Montez, and Turhan Bey in a Technicolor spectacle from Universal Pictures.

I really enjoyed ARABIAN NIGHTS, and I'm happy to say that I liked ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES even more.

Like ARABIAN NIGHTS, the story, written by Edmund L. Hartmann, is about a "hidden caliph," but it's more coherent and a little lighter on its feet than the earlier film. And with a couple more years and another film to her credit -- WHITE SAVAGE (1943), again with Hall -- Montez gives a more relaxed and natural performance. She's still not a great actress, but she's more than good enough for this role.

As the film begins, the Mongols have invaded Baghdad. The caliph (Moroni Olsen) is killed due to the betrayal of Prince Cassim (Frank Puglia), but the caliph's young son Ali (Scotty Beckett) escapes and stumbles across the cave of the "forty thieves."

The thieves, including Old Baba (Fortunio Bonanova) and Abdullah (Andy Devine), adopt Ali, naming him Ali Baba, and when he grows up the thieves, now "forty and one," terrorize the Mongols.

As the story unfolds, eventually the thieves kidnap Princess Amara (Montez), who is expected to be the bride of the Mongol ruler Kahn (Kurt Katch). Only later does Ali realize that Amara is the childhood friend (played by Yvette Duguay in the opening scenes) he had pledged to wed himself.

Along the way there are many exciting action scenes, with Amara's loyal servant Jamiel (Turhan Bey) joining forces with the thieves in a plan to overthrow Kahn and restore Ali to the throne.

I found this film a lot of fun; just as with ARABIAN NIGHTS, it must have been wonderful escapism for wartime audiences when it was released in January 1944. It certainly feels especially good to me right now being able to disappear into Universal's Technicolor wonderland for 87 minutes.

I like Jon Hall in these films quite well; he's good-humored and handsome, although it must be admitted that in this film he threatens to be overshadowed by the heroics of Bey, an actor I'm really coming to appreciate this year. Bey was delightful in the comedy OUT OF THE BLUE (1947) and had a much smaller part in ARABIAN NIGHTS. His performances in OUT OF THE BLUE and ALI BABA cause me to be interested in seeking out more of his work.

Andy Devine has quite a nice part in this as Ali's "nursemaid," assigned by Old Baba to take care of the young boy. It's a nicely written and acted part, balancing comedy with a couple moments which are quite touching.

The vigorous score by Edward Ward is a real plus, as is the Technicolor cinematography of W. Howard Greene and George Robinson. Numerous desert scenes were filmed on location in California's Red Rock Canyon State Park.

ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES was directed by Arthur Lubin.

Like ARABIAN NIGHTS, the ALI BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES Blu-ray disc includes the trailer, a gallery of trailers for three additional films available from Kino Lorber, and a commentary track by Phillipa Berry. The film looks and sounds terrific. It's a most enjoyable release.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

What a wonderful cast! This sounds like so much fun; the perfect treat for these days and to enjoy when things are going better. It's going on the Christmas list.

6:00 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I really was fun! I think you'll like it. :) Hope you get it for Christmas -- if you do please let me know what you think when you catch up with it!

Best wishes,

9:46 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older