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Trivia / The Thief of Bagdad (1940)

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  • Billing Displacement: Both Sabu and Conrad Veidt are billed above the unknown John Justin, who is the actual protagonist of the film.
  • California Doubling: Arizona doubled for Africa. Some scenes were planned to be shot in Africa, but World War II put the kibosh on those plans.
  • Cross-Cast Role: Most of the riders who clear the marketplace to make way for the princess are actually played by women. This is because most of the men were fighting in the war.
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  • Executive Meddling: When the film was shot in America, the stricter censor codes at the time insisted that the actresses' costumes had to be buttoned all the way up to the top. You can spot the American-shot scenes from the British ones based on this.
  • Fake Nationality: British actors play Arabian characters. The German Conrad Veidt as well. Sabu is borderline, as he was Indian - and some have theorised that some of One Thousand and One Nights originated in India.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • The title is 'Bagdad' instead of 'Baghdad' because most of the producers were Eastern European - and that is how it is sometimes spelled there.
    • Michael Powell had to leave the director's chair along with several key crew members to direct The Lion Has Wings - a propaganda film about the RAF, at Winston Churchill's request.
  • Referenced by...: It is the subject of a lot of Shout Outs. Aladdin's Abu is a monkey version of Sabu's character, and Jafar is Conrad Veidt. Not to mention that the Sultan of Agrabah basically is the Sultan of Basra, as is the King in The Thief and the Cobbler. The Aladdin series also features the Blue Rose of Forgetfulness in one episode.
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  • Troubled Production: Initially filmed in England but the Blitz of the Second World War forced them to relocate to America. There was such a long break in production that Sabu's scenes had to be re-shot - since he had grown several inches. Producer Alexander Korda was so demanding that the film went through about six different directors.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Vivien Leigh was cast as the princess but when she won the coveted role of Scarlett O'Hara, the part was given to June Duprez.
    • The first director Ludwig Berger imagined the film as a lyrical black-and-white fantasy. Producer Alexander Korda however felt it should be big, bold and colourful.
  • Written by Cast Member: The film's screenwriter Miles Malleson, also plays the toy-obsessed Sultan of Basra.

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