The Thief of Bagdad (1961 film)

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The Thief of Bagdad
Directed by Arthur Lubin
Starring Steve Reeves
Music by Carlo Rustichelli
Cinematography Tonino Delli Colli
Edited by Gene Ruggiero
Lux Compagnie Cinématographique de France [1]
Distributed by MGM
Release dates
  • 1961 (1961)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Thief of Bagdad (Italian: Il Ladro di Bagdad) is a 1961 film starring Steve Reeves.[2]


In the time of the Arabian Nights, the city of Bagdad is ruled by Sultan Ali Bajazeth (Antonio Battistella) but actually controlled by the scheming Grand Vizier Ghamal (Daniele Vargas), who exploits the people for his own profit. However, the poor of Bagdad are aided by Karim, the Thief of Bagdad (Steve Reeves), whose skill and daring are so great that he even steals Ghamal's purse while the Vizier is making a proclamation and throws Ghamal's money to the poor. The deed is witnessed by a mysterious old man who appears and vanishes into thin air.

That same day, Prince Osman (Arturo Dominici) is due to arrive at the palace to ask for the hand of Sultan Ali's daughter Amina (Giorgia Moll) in marriage. Karim sneaks into the palace, waylays Osman and impersonates the prince, using the opportunity to steal jewels from all of the assembled courtiers (including the sultan's own royal ring). When the thefts are discovered and the real prince (tied and gagged) stumbles into the throne room, Karim (aided by the mysterious old man) hides in Princess Amina's quarters. When her attendants leave, Karim reveals himself to her and the two are immediately drawn to each other (she believing that he is Prince Osman). Karim gives her the sultan's ring and escapes before the palace guards burst in to search.

The Third Door leads to the Palace of Kadeejah (Edy Vessel), a beautiful woman who tempts Karim to give up the Quest and remain with her. In an enchanted pool, she shows him a vision of Osman presenting Amina with a casket containing a Blue Rose; however, when it is taken out of the casket, it is revealed as a fake. Osman storms out, swearing to conquer Bagdad by force. Karim realizes that Kadeejah and her palace are a trap: all of the other suitors have been turned into statues. He resists her, she herself becomes a statue and her palace sinks into the sea. Karim swims to safety, finding the Fourth Door in a seaside cave. Meanwhile, Osman attacks Bagdad, and Ghamal turns traitor and joins Osman.

The Fifth Door leads Karim to a winged horse, which is guarded by faceless warriors garbed in black. Using the Cloak of Invisibility, Karim is able to fight them off and escape on the winged horse. He arrives at a castle in the clouds, where he finds a rosebush on which The Blue Rose grows but which is surrounded by an invisible barrier. He finds a way in and picks The Blue Rose and is immediately transported back to the desert, where the old man is waiting with Karim's horse. He gives Karim a magic jewel, telling him it will give him anything he wishes but only once.

Karim rescues Amina and returns her to her father. The Blue Rose is destroyed, but Karim plucks a white rose and gives it to Amina, telling her that if she truly loves him then it is blue. She takes the rose and tells him that it is blue, and it immediately turns blue and curing her completely. The sultan welcomes Karim as his son-in-law and successor. Karim sees a bust of the mysterious old man, but the sultan tells him that it is a bust of his late uncle, the great Sultan Achim I. As Karim kisses Amina, the bust comes to life and blows out the lamp to end the picture.


The film has been considered as one the "finest vehicles" in which Steve Reeves starred.[3]


A novelization of the film was written by Richard Wormser and published by Dell Paperbacks in 1961.

The novelization is told in the first person from the point of view of Abu Hastin, the jinni of Bagdad (who takes the place of the old man from the film and is more involved in the novelization than his counterpart in the film). The novelization creates new characters such as The Lady Jinni of the Rocky Sands (who helps the Jinni of Bagdad create the Quest's tests and is the Jinni of Bagdad's love interest), Karim's scholarly but crippled older brother Malek and The Hairy (or evil) Jinni of Mossul (identified as Osman's home city). The novelization also alters some of the film's characters, making Amina's father more foolish that he is in the film, Karim younger and more reckless, and Amina less of the traditional helpless heroine. Some of the film's Quest tests, Amina's kidnapping, and Osman's siege of Bagdad were eliminated from the novelization.


  • Hughes, Howard (2011). Cinema Italiano - The Complete Guide From Classics To Cult. London - New York: I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-1-84885-608-0. 


  1. ^ Looking at Hollywood: Steve Reeves Will Star in 3d 'Thief of Bagdad' Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 22 June 1960: b3.
  2. ^ The Thief of Bagdad at TCMDB
  3. ^ Hughes, p.36f

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