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Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves
Theatrical release poster
Directed byArthur Lubin
Written byEdmund Hartmann
Produced byPaul Malvern
StarringJon Hall
Maria Montez
Andy Devine
Kurt Katch
Turhan Bey
Frank Puglia
CinematographyW. Howard Greene
George Robinson
Edited byRussell F. Schoengarth
Music byEdward Ward
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release dates
United States:
January 14, 1944
Running time
87 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office3,634,679 admissions (France)[1]

Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves is a 1944 adventure film from Universal Pictures, directed by Arthur Lubin, and starring Maria Montez, Jon Hall, and Turhan Bey. The film is derived from The Book of One Thousand and One Nights, but its storyline departs greatly from the tale of the same name and includes an actual historic event. The film is one of series of "exotic" tales released by Universal during the Second World War; others include Cobra Woman, Arabian Nights, and White Savage.[2]

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The Middle East, A.D. 1258. After Mongolian forces conquer Bagdad, the caliph Hassan escapes captivity, along with his young son Ali. While staying at the estate of Prince Cassim, Ali and Cassim's daughter Amara, fearing they will be separated, betroth themselves via a blood-bond. Later, Cassim betrays Hassan to the Mongols' leader, Hulagu Khan. While in hiding, young Ali watches his father die. Vowing revenge, he escapes capture and makes for the Persian desert. At one point, he spies a mountainside where a group of riders exits a hidden cave. Ali enters the cave and finds it filled with treasure. When the riders return, they find the boy asleep in their hideout. Upon learning he is the son of Hassan and impressed by his courageous spirit, they allow him to stay. Their leader, Old Baba, adopts him as his son, dubbing him Ali Baba.

Fast-forward 10 years. The band of 40 thieves have now become Robin Hood-style resistance fighters, robbing the Mongols and giving to the poor and downtrodden. Their leader Ali Baba, now a grown man, plots the kidnapping of the Khan's bride-to-be. She turns out to be the grown-up Amara. The two childhood friends thus hold a chance encounter at an oasis. They don't recognize each other, but it hardly matters since their reunion is cut short when Ali is ambushed and captured. He is taken to the Khan, who orders him pilloried in the public square. Before his ensuing execution, though, he is rescued by his pack of thieves, who kidnap Amara before making a getaway to Mount Sesame and the cave.

Later, Amara and Ali finally recognize each other as long, lost childhood friends. Old feelings are awakened, and Ali commands her release. This initially arouses the anger of his band, but they remain loyal. When Amara returns to Bagdad, her father confesses Ali Baba's true identity to the Khan. Further, he suggests a plan where forty huge jars of oil will be offered as a wedding gift at the ceremony. That way, the Khan can welcome Ali's 40 thieves in a fitting manner. But on the wedding day, when scimitars are thrust into the jars, it is discovered they contain only sand. At this point, the thieves emerge from the crowd, and the rebellion is on. While the thieves attack the palace guards, he and Amara open the gates for the mob to storm in and overpower the Mongols. Hulagu Khan is killed, and the Arabian flag is hoisted atop the palace's highest tower.



The role of Jamiel was meant to be played by Sabu. However, when he went into the army, the role was taken by Turhan Bey.[3][4]

Maria Montez admitted she only acted "three or four times" in the film.[5]


Diabolique magazine said the film "isn’t as good as White Savage but is still bright fun" arguing that Bey's casting "throws the movie off. Sabu was a big kid but Bey is more mature, suave, grown up, with careful pro-noun-ci-ation. Sabu was never a sexual rival to Hall, but Bey he could be and Lubin gives all these close ups of him looking dreamy (the director and Lubin had clearly decided to build him into a star). It was clearly just the tonic for audiences after a hard day at the munitions factory. The public turned up in droves, and the film has never stopped playing on television."[6]

See also


  1. ^ French box office of 1948 at Box Office Story
  2. ^ Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves at Maria Montez
  3. ^ "SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Turhan Bey, Czech Actor, Will Appear Opposite Katharine Hepburn in 'Dragon Seed'". New York Times. Oct 2, 1943. p. 19.
  4. ^ Vagg, Stephen (April 9, 2022). "The Campy, Yet Surprisingly Interesting Cinema of Jon Hall". Filmiink.
  5. ^ Mason, Jerry (Mar 12, 1944). "FAIR AND SULTRY: Maria Montez has changed in the last year—she says...". Los Angeles Times. p. F15.
  6. ^ Vagg, Stephen (14 September 2019). "The Cinema of Arthur Lubin". Diabolique Magazine.

External links

This page was last edited on 13 June 2023, at 16:45
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