The Thief of Bagdad 1940 picture image

1940 Version of The Thief of Bagdad

The first time I watched the 1940 version of The Thief of Bagdad, I recalled liking it more than the 1920’s version but when I thought about it recently I couldn’t remember why. It could have just been the superficialness of color and sound, or I might have just liked the characters better. I will say that yes I like some of the characters better but this movie has a very odd way telling the story and you can see the Disney version of Aladdin all over this movie.

John Justin as Ahmad and June Duprez as the Princess The Thief of Bagdad 1940

John Justin as Ahmad and June Duprez as the Princess

So the movie at first is told in flashback, Ahmad, a blind beggar with a talented dog tells his story to a group of ladies. In his flashback we learn that Ahmad was the king of Bagdad and the dog was a young thief named Abu. Ahmad was kept at a distance from his people by his royal vizier, Jaffar. One day Jaffar convinces Ahmad to go out among the people and Ahmad learns he is not well liked and that there a prophesy about a hero descending from the sky on a magic cloud-like thing and golden crossbow. Jaffar then has Ahmad thrown in a jail where he meets Abu. They escapes and become friends. They leave Bagdad and head to Basra.

In Basra, Ahmad sees the princess, who doesn’t have a name. Ahmad and the Princess meet and fall in love. However Jaffar also travels to Basra intent on marrying the Princess. Jaffar gives the Princess’ father, the Sultan a mechanical flying horse as he loves toys in exchange for the Princess. The Sultan concedes and the Princess flees Basra however off-screen she is captured and sold in a slave market. Ahmad then confronts Jaffar and he turns Ahmad blind and Abu into a dog which they will remain till he holds the Princess in his arms.

That ends the flashback part. As it turns out, Ahmad was brought to the house where he just told his story because the Princess ( I wish she had a name) is sleeping a sleep which she can’t wake from till Ahmad shows up. The Princess is then told there is a doctor that can cure Ahmad’s blindness so she goes and she is told the doctor in one a ship. When the Princess boards the ship with Abu, it sails away. It was all a scheme by Jaffar. Jaffar was the one who bought the Princess and cared for her while she slept. He tells her that he can cure Ahmad if he holds her which she allows and Ahmad and Abu are cured. Prior to Abu changing back to a human he stow-a-way on the boat but was thrown off and changes back to human on reaching the docks.

Abu reaches Ahmad and they go after the Princess but Jaffar conjures up a storm and they are left shipwreck. Abu finds a magic lamp on the beach and a Djinn comes out. Abu’s first wish is a sausage. The Djinn then takes Abu to get an all-seeing crystal mainly because Abu claims he can steal it but the Djinn doesn’t believe him and he does steal it and uses it to see where Ahmad is.

As that is going on, Jaffar tries to magically make the Princess love him but can’t bring himself as he want her to love him truly. He then ask her to command him and she asks him to bring her back to Basra. Once there the Princess begs her father to not force her to marry Jaffar which he agrees to but Jaffar has the sultan killed with a mechanical toy called the Silver Maid which stabs him in the heart.

The Djinn takes Abu to Ahmad and they look through the seeing crystal, which is called the All-seeing Eye, to see the Princess. Jaffar arranges for her to smell the Blue Rose of Forgetfulness which causes her to forget her love and agony. This cause Ahmad to lash out on Abu and Abu wishes Ahmad way which is his final wish and he left alone.

Ahmad appears at Jaffar’s palace and the Princess regains her memory. Jaffar then orders them both to be executed. Abu the shatters the All-seeing eye and is transported to the Land of Legend. Abu is thanked for freeing the inhabitants who had been turned to stone and is gifted a magical golden crossbow and is named the king’s successor. Abu however steals a magic carpet to save Ahmad.

As Ahmad is about to be executed as the Princess is forced to watch, Abu comes flying done on the magic carpet. This sparks a revolt. Jaffar tries to flee on the mechanical flying horse but Abu shots him with the crossbow. Ahmad and the Princess get married and Ahmad names Abu as the royal vizier but Abu peaces out on the carpet for more adventures.

So much narrative.

Sabu as Abu The Thief of Bagdad 1940

Sabu as Abu

This movie is presented with a lot of narrative and to be fair it could have a lot more. I would have loved to seen the Princess’s journey but the movie wasn’t about her it was about Abu’s adventure saving Ahmad who was in love with the Princess and Jaffar’s scheming. It’s a little weird but that the titular character is spend a fair chunk of time on the side and the other characters are not concern with him. The heart of the movie centers on Ahmad’s and his dilemma but it’s Abu who saves the day. It defiantly a weird direction to go in.

June Duprez as the Princess and Conrad Veidt as Jaffar The Thief of Bagdad 1940

June Duprez as the Princess and Conrad Veidt as Jaffar

Despite all the narrative, there isn’t a lot of character development in this movie. None of the character grow and change. They are all static. They are likable enough but they don’t have  any arcs. Personally, I enjoyed the interactions between Jaffar and the Princess over Abu and Ahmad.

June Duprez as the Princess The Thief of Bagdad 1940

June Duprez as the Princess

I got to say, I found the Princess an interesting character. Yes, she is a damsel in distress but she did try to take her life in her own hands as she ran away and does resist Jaffar. She tries to be an active player. I wish she had gotten more screen time and a name.

Sabu as Abu with Rex Ingram as the Djinn The Thief of Bagdad 1940

Sabu as Abu with Rex Ingram as the Djinn

I think this movie much like the 1920’s movie was more for style. This movie is impressive for the 1940’s and it did some great chromo work. You can see a clear style over substance in scenes like the Silver maid and Abu stealing the All-seeing eye. These scenes go on for a while but instead of character development it just a neat scenes to look at.

Also the costumes were lovely. Ahmad main costumes is like a reversal of Disney’s Aladdin costume. But for me everything the princess wore was like beautiful.

June Duprez as the Princess The Thief of Bagdad 1940

June Duprez as the Princess

The 1940 version of The Thief of Bagdad is an entertaining movie that while doesn’t have the most development characters and the plot is all over the place is fun to watch and enjoyable.

2022 Edit- I recently rewatched this movie. I maintain that it’s fun entertaining movie with a lot of great spectacle. I think some of the aspects that might have bothered me when I wrote this review, like the Princess’ journey being off-screen don’t bother me. The story wasn’t about that we just needed to know that she tried and we can use how imaginations. I do wish she had a name but the movie is more about Abu helping with buddy out. Also it’s not a character driven  narrative and that is fine. It’s not a fault it’s more of a feature.

Clue 1 and Clue 2

The Return of Jafar picture image

The Return of Jafar

The Return of Jafar was the first direct to video sequel of Disney’s and it’s not bad, it’s not great but’s it’s not bad. It teeters on being fairly good.

Iago and Jasmine,  The Return of Jafar  picture image

Iago and Jasmine

As the sad truth is with Disney sequels is they are in no way half as good as the movies they are continuing. The animations and songs are not up to par with original. So I won’t harp too much on those factors unless I must. With this one, I don’t need to. The songs are ok and animation really could be so much worse. I really mean it’s bad but I have seen worse.

Arabian Nights,  The Return of Jafar  picture image

Arabian Nights

Return of Jafar has two missions as a “movie”, outside of making a little cash, the first one is the elimination of Jafar’s life. He is one of the few villains in renaissance period of Disney that was not killed in the first movie.

The second reason and the stronger impetus for this movie, is to kick-off the Aladdin TV series. Return of Jafar feels like a three episode pilot you can even see where if  the acts were episodes as they end every 23 minutes (At minute 23, 46 and 69, there is a lovely fade to black at each part). Even the opening song from the show, Arabian Nights, is the Return of Jafar version and not the original movie version.

Iago, The Return of Jafar  picture image


To add interest for the TV show, Aladdin needed a foil. Someone who was in friendly opposition to Aladdin’s do-gooder-ness. This role was ideal for Iago, Jafar’s minion parrot in the original. So Return of Jafar was Iago’s arc. It’s how he switches sides. Iago breaks free of Jafar tries to get in with the good guys but is threaten when Jafar gets out of the lamp and then Iago has to struggle between sides and decides to side with team good guys. So this movie is Iago’s story.

This was a risk as Iago was a very minor character but Disney has a little bit of a thing with redeeming former lesser badies. But Iago as a character is interesting. It’s not a rehashing of Aladdin, it’s own thing. And as story it’s a fairly classic one, the redemption tale, which was a smart move.

Iago and Jafar, The Return of Jafar  picture image

Iago and Jafar

Then there is Jafar, our titular character, Now I think Jafar was a big dumb stupid-head in the first movie. I mean, he was really stupid. Like Grade-A Dum-Dum. The guy spends years searching for a lamp so he can wish to be the Sultan but he has a snake staff with mind-control capabilities that works on the fucking sultan and he was in charge of the guards. A easier coup-de-tat, there could no be. So dumb.

He is still dumb in this one but he seems to be enjoying himself and badness in this movie more which makes him more enjoyable.  Enjoyable but dumb much like Abis Mal, whom I enjoy. Abis Mal is how you should use Jason Alexander Disney. Fucking gargoyles. I also love Abis Mal’s name ^^. Oh the puns names in the Aladdin show…. I should mention that I liked the Aladdin show.

Jasmine, Genie, Aladdin and Abu, The Return of Jafar picture image

Jasmine, Genie, Aladdin and Abu

Besides Iago and the bad guys, the good guys don’t do that much in this movie. The Genie is annoying, Aladdin helps redeem Iago but doesn’t too much and the others are there.

Hmmm, I wonder if Jasmine would have had more to do if this movie came out after the Princess Line was established? Though despite Genie’s annoying-ness, he does offer the information on the genie rules. Which two are important, one is that Jafar can’t kill people and if his lamp is destroyed he will be destroyed so long as he is not freed. This brings me to a big issue I have with movie.

Genie-form Jafar, The Return of Jafar picture image

Genie-form Jafar, The Return of Jafar

At the end of the movie, Jafar has his final confrontation with Aladdin and he divides the Earth and exposes hot molten lava. Where did the lava come from? Did he conjure it or did he really cut the Earth that far down? I mean to get to lava you have go thousands of miles into the Earth. It didn’t look very deep in the movie so I’m going with that he conjured it with his Genie magics.

Now if Jafar can’t kill anyone because it’s a Genie rule, does that mean the lava wouldn’t have killed anyone but could melt this metal lamp? I’m so confused. If Jafar trapped Aladdin in a box and hurled it into the Mariana Trench would Aladdin live through the lack of air and the pressure? Can he not physically kill anyone but set-up a demise or does his magic not have lethal potential? Because the lava would be his magic as well as the box in my terrible example, so would it impede his revenge? Answer me Movie! Who wrote this? I need an answers from someone! Hmmmm, 11 people are credited with the writing for this movie.

I know it was mentioned in the first movie but I thought it wasn’t something a genie couldn’t do but something someone couldn’t wish for. Looking at Disney wiki…….. (gags), Jafar can cause death indirectly. He can insight people to murder or use the environment. But the lava was his magic and therefore I don’t think it could have killed people. Can he push someone off a roof…. I mean there it’s fall that kills.

Ahhh, this is hurting to think about. But it’s not something little, this is climax and sort of the point of it all. If he teleported the lava could it still kill? I mean he had to use magic and if his magic can’t kill that would mean things influenced by said magic would not have the killing potential? (@@ Mind Implosion)

Jafar trapping Genie in an orb with a Spider lock, The Return of Jafar picture image

Jafar trapping Genie in an orb with a Spider lock

Anyway I’m off-track, that lava thing hurts my brain. I have another issue with Jafar, why spiders as his motif? What a happen to snakes? He still has his snake staff for cry-sake. So why in this movie he’s like Spider Fan-boy. Never got that one. Wait, can he still use this snake staff to control people? Can he command someone to kill? Why didn’t he just have someone do that? I can’t seem to let this go….

Jafar and Abis Mal, The Return of Jafar picture image

Jafar and Abis Mal

The Return of Jafar as a lot issues but it’s decent fairly story all around. As the Disney sequels go it one of the not bad ones. It’s not abysmal. Ha, Puns!