10th Annual Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival
Thief of Bagdad
106 mins | Adventure, Fantasy | United Kingdom, USA | Directed by Ludwig Berger, Michael Powell, Tim Whelan, Alexander Korda
One of the most spectacular fantasies ever made, this color film pioneer was at the forefront of cinematic technique when released. Inspired by The Arabian Nights and cited as a major influence on Disney’s Aladdin, Sabu Dastagir co-stars as Abu the thief in this epic adventure.
When Prince Ahmad (John Justin) is blinded and cast out of Bagdad by the nefarious Jaffar (Conrad Veidt), he joins forces with the scrappy thief Abu (Sabu, in his definitive role) to win back his royal place, and the heart of a beautiful princess (June Duprez). With its luscious Technicolor, vivid sets, and unprecedented visual effects, THE THIEF OF BAGDAD has charmed viewers of all ages for decades.
Perhaps the only Indian national to achieve A-list celebrity status in mid 20th century Hollywood, Sabu is best known for his role in the original live action adaptation of THE JUNGLE BOOK. While it is somewhat problematic that he race-bends as Arab in the role of Abu, this is arguably his strongest performance in a Hollywood film, spending nearly an hour of the film as the lead protagonist.