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YMMV / The Thief of Bagdad (1940)

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  • Broken Base: Both this and the 1924 version are beloved by many classic movie buffs, so there is some competition as to which is better.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Conrad Veidt being 47 at that moment didn't hurt in the least.
    • From a modern perspective, his evilness is a source of some Values Dissonance: Jaffar actually comes and asks for the Princess's hand properly instead of just breaking into her garden, and even gives her a choice to 'command him'. He repeatedly refuses to rape her even if he could. But he's presented as the weaker, unmanly guy because of this. He shows noble intentions towards her for the first half of the film, and only turns murderous after he's gone nuts from her repeated rejections. Why she'd choose a bumbling prettyboy over a smart, sexy engineer and wizard, we will never know.
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    • Conrad Veidt was the chick magnet of the film, something the producers and directors were very aware of. Of the other male leads, Sabu was a child star and John Justin hadn't made a single movie in his life. Veidt, on the other hand, had been a film legend for twenty years and had a large, swooning female fanbase (he would always make it to the top ten male actors list in British movie magazine polls of the time). Movie magazines at the time reported on the unusual enthusiasm he would inspire in female fans. He ended up receiving many letters from fangirls who said they would've definitely chosen Jaffar over Ahmad.
  • Fair for Its Day: It's an "Arabian Nights" Days fantasy by the Golden Age of Hollywood with European actors playing Arabs so it's a fairly typical Orientalist fantasy, right? Well the main protagonist and title character, the Thief of Bagdad is Abu the Thief, who is played by an Indian, and the main antagonist is played by Conrad Veidt, a vaguely German and given the context and the profile of the man playing him, a Nazi stand-in. In the context of the time, having a non-white character defeat and kill the white bad guy was pretty radical for a major studio to do so given the Nazi propaganda, and the racism of American and British society. To a large extent, this is way more radical than Disney's Aladdin which was inspired by this film but made Abu into a monkey, made the hero Aladdin into an American-looking boy, with Jafar having exaggerated Middle Eastern features.
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  • Ho Yay and Foe Yay: Check out the long, lingering look Jaffar gives to the half-naked Ahmad when he finds him in the marketplace. And the line he says immediately after.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The spider was horrifying. Many of the other scenes in the movie have a downright creepy feel to them too, including Jaffar's death while riding the mechanical horse. In some cuts of the film it ended up looking like a REAL horse falling out of the sky in pieces!
  • Values Resonance: It's amazing that a fantasy film made in 1940 has a POC as the protagonist who gets the major share of screentime, does all the cool heroic stuff usually done by Mighty Whitey types in other movies (such as invading tombs and finding artifacts) defeats the bad guy and gets to ride out for more adventures. This film was considerably popular among African-Americans and other POC for just that reason, with African-American critic David Ehrenstein remarking that he identified with Sabu in this film because it was the first time he saw someone that wasn't white shown as a hero.
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  • Visual Effects of Awesome: A lot of the special effects are astonishingly good for a film made in 1940. Extensive use is made of back-projection in particular.


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