InformationProgressive Silent Film ListLost FilmsPeopleTheaters
TaylorologyArticlesHome VideoBooksStoreSearch
Chaplin's Mutual Comedies
 
Silent Era Home Page  >  Home Video  >  The Thief of Bagdad
 
Silent Era Films on Home Video
Reviews of silent film releases on home video.
Copyright © 1999-2014 by Carl Bennett
and the Silent Era Company.
All Rights Reserved.
The Thief
of Bagdad

(1924)
 

The grandest production of Douglas Fairbanks’ career, The Thief of Bagdad (1924) is first and foremost a love story. It is also one of the greatest spectacles of the silent era. The film’s legendary production design is a striking part of this Arabian Nights fantasy.

Fairbanks is a street thief who falls in love with a princess who is about to marry. He impersonates a prince to gain access to the princess and becomes involved in a competition for her hand in marriage. Faced with three unsavory royal suitors, the princess falls for the thief in his disguise.

Character actor Sojin Kamiyama makes an excellent villain as Khan, the Mongol prince, who would rather steal the princess’ heart than win it. Anna May Wong is the young handmaiden who is secretly in league with Khan. And Snitz Edwards lends able comedic support as the thief’s cohort. — Carl Bennett

2013 Cohen Film Collection Blu-ray Disc edition

The Thief of Bagdad (1924), color-tinted and color-toned black & white and black & white, 155 minutes, not rated.

Cohen Media Group, distributed by Entertainment One Film USA,
CMG-BD-7394, UPC 7-41952-73949-4, ISBN 1-4172-3928-X.
Pillarboxed 16:9 NTSC, two single-sided, single-layered Blu-ray Discs, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $24.98.
DVD release date: 19 February 2013.
Country of origin: USA
This Blu-ray Discs edition has been mastered from a 2K high-definition video transfer of a new restoration conflated from two 35mm negatives, which incorporates the color-tinting and color-tones of the original release prints.

The film is accompanied by the music score composed by Carl Davis, who conducted the Philharmonia Orchestra, incorporating themes by Rimsky-Korsakov.

The disc features audio commentary by film historian Jeffrey Vance, and a featurette with production photographs.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region-Free Blu-ray Disc edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2013 Cohen Film Collection DVD edition

The Thief of Bagdad (1924), color-tinted and color-toned black & white and black & white, 155 minutes, not rated.

Cohen Media Group, distributed by Entertainment One Film USA,
unknown catalog number, unknown UPC number, unknown ISBN number.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $19.98.
DVD release date: 19 February 2013.
Country of origin: USA
This DVD edition has been mastered from a 2K high-definition video transfer of a new restoration conflated from two 35mm negatives, which incorporates the color-tinting and color-tones of the original release prints.

The film is accompanied by the music score composed by Carl Davis, who conducted the Philharmonia Orchestra, incorporating themes by Rimsky-Korsakov.

The disc features audio commentary by film historian Jeffrey Vance, and a featurette with production photographs.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2004 Kino on Video DVD edition

The Thief of Bagdad (1924), black & white, 154 minutes, not rated.

Kino International, K392, UPC 7-38329-03929-2.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, dual-layered DVD disc, Region 1, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $29.95.
DVD release date: 3 February 2004.
Country of origin: USA
This edition of Fairbanks’ fantasy masterpiece includes a new stereo music score based on the 1924 cue sheets and performed by The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

The disc also features a supplementary section that includes 19 minutes of outtakes, an introduction by Orson Welles from The Silent Years television series, and exerpts from Méliès’ Arabian Nights and Paul Leni’s Waxworks (1924).

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 1 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
This Region 1 NTSC DVD edition is also available directly from KINO LORBER.
1998 Image Entertainment DVD edition

The Thief of Bagdad (1924), color-tinted and color-toned black & white, 139 minutes, not rated.

Film Preservation Associates, distributed by Image Entertainment, ID4235DSDVD, UPC 0-14381-42352-5.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, 3.5 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 1.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 20 chapter stops, snapper DVD case (rereleased in standard DVD keepcase), $29.99 (reduced to $24.99).
DVD release date: 8 April 1998.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 7 / audio: 7 / additional content: 0 / overall: 7.

This early DVD edition shows that good mastering can take one a long way. The full-frame digital video transfer was prepared for laserdisc release in 1996 by home video producer David Shepard from a 35mm preservation negative. While the older transfer still looks good on today’s HD equipment, it also is a little hot in its highlights.

The musical accompaniment was arranged from the original 1924 music cue sheets and performed in 1975 by Gaylord Carter on a Wurlitzer theater pipe organ, and is presented here in mono sound. Carter always turned in an exciting performance, capturing the essence of musical accompaniment in silent era theaters.

Not bad, for an older edition of The Thief of Bagdad on a low bit-rate, first-generation DVD. But, beware, several readers have noted that a portion of the pivotal rose bush scene is missing from this edition.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
2003 Alpha Video DVD edition

The Thief of Bagdad (1924), black & white, 148 minutes, not rated.

Alpha Video, ALP 4129D, UPC 0-89218-41299-7.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, one single-sided, single-layered DVD disc, Region 0, 4 Mbps average video bit rate, 192 kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound, English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, chapter stops, standard DVD keepcase, $6.98.
DVD release date: 18 March 2003.
Country of origin: USA

Ratings (1-10): video: 4 / audio: 3 / additional content: 0 / overall: 4.

This budget edition of The Thief of Bagdad has been transferred from a Blackhawk Films 16mm reduction print and, therefore, has many of the shortcomings of that older print. The picture is slightly contrasty, with loss of detail in highlight areas. The print used for the transfer has some minor emulsion damage, several sections of exposure fluctuations throughout, splices, long vertical scratches, dust, and frame jitters. The original print has cropped the original print framing slightly, and the video transfer has not been windowboxed, with the result that some of the film’s intertitles with be cropped to the point of difficult reading on some televisions.

The mono audio is lifted directly from the 16mm print soundtrack, an orchestral soundtrack with (sometimes silly) sound effects. The music is serviceable, but hardly pleasing.

This disc should not be your first experience of The Thief of Bagdad, since the film has survived in very good to excellent 35mm prints that have been utilized for other home video editions (notably the out-of-print HBO Video laserdisc and VHS editions). Sight unseen, we feel that the earlier Image DVD edition has to be far better than this Alpha Video edition, and we recommend the Image disc until a better DVD edition is published.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
United Kingdom: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.co.uk. Your purchase supports Silent Era.
2006 St. Clair Vision DVD edition

Classic Tales of Adventure (1921-1955), black & white, 880 minutes total, not rated,
including The Thief of Bagdad (1924), black & white, 147 minutes, not rated.

St. Clair Vision, PDS87269-3VD, UPC 7-77966-87269-8.
Full-frame 4:3 NTSC, three single-sided, dual-layered DVD discs, Region 0, ? Mbps average video bit rate, ? kbps audio bit rate, Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound (processed from mono sources), English language intertitles, no foreign language subtitles, 8 chapter stops, three-disc DVD keepcase, $9.98.
DVD release date: 2 May 2006.
Country of origin: Canada

Ratings (1-10): video: 4 / audio: 4 / additional content: 5 / overall: 4.

This edition has been mastered from a good 16mm reduction print, grayed-out in its tonal range and flecked with a typical amount of speckling and dust, but with a few print tears, long vertical scratches, and some serious emulsion scrapes. The image detail is very soft, almost to the point of distraction.

The video transfer runs at sound speed — which is a bit too fast — because the film is accompanied by a music score, with sound effects, from the monaural optical soundtrack of the source print. All of which begs the question why St. Clair Vision thinks that 5.1 surround sound is justified, other than to dupe an unknowing consumer into thinking they are getting a disc of value. Don’t bother.

 
USA: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.com. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
 
Canada: Click the logomark to purchase this Region 0 NTSC DVD edition from Amazon.ca. Your purchase supports the Silent Era website.
Other silent era DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS films available on home video.

Other silent era ANNA MAY WONG films available on home video.

Douglas Fairbanks filmography in The Progressive Silent Film List
 
Silent Era Home Page  >  Home Video  >  The Thief of Bagdad   ||   Top of Page

The Big Parade on Blu-ray

Silent Era Ads
You Can Reach
more than 25,000
Silent Era readers
each month for less
than a dollar a day
with your
text ad here.
Advertise on
Silent Era

Black Pirate on Blu-ray Disc

Metropolis on Blu-Ray Disc

Complete Metropolis on DVD

Keaton on Blu-Ray Disc

Preorder Chaplin at Keystone!

Chaplin at Keystone

Josef von Sternberg DVD

The General on Blu-ray Disc

Battleship Potemkin on Blu-ray Disc

Georges Méliès DVD

Beyond the Rocks DVD

Valentino DVD

Chaplin Mutuals on DVD

La Roue on DVD

The Last Laugh DVD Restored

Unknown Chaplin on DVD

Advertise