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As a kid, Ali (Jon Hall) has seen grand vizier Cassim (Frank Puglia)
murder his father the caliph of Bagdad (Moroni Olsen) to clear the path
for the invading Mongols under Hulagu Khan (Kurt Katch). Ali himself
managed to escape only out of pure luck, and he later found the secret
cave of the Forty Thieves, the leader of whom (Fortunio Bonanova) took him
on in a son's stead.
Now Ali is the leader of the Forty Thieves himself,
and he has turned them from a gang of cutthroats into freedom fighters
against the Mongol hordes. One day, Ali learns about a caravan leading
Hulagu Khan's bride to be to Bagdad, and when Ali spies the caravan out,
he stumbles upon bride-to-be Amara (Maria Montez), and they feel
immediately attracted to each other, not knowing that they were childhood
lovers. Then though, Ali walks into a trap by the Mongols, and thinks she
has betrayed them. He is soon freed from captivity by his men, and now he
takes her captive, planning to trade her life for Cassim's - it should be
noted at this point that Amara is also Cassim's daughter.
Ali's demands, the Khan puts the whole affair into the hands of Cassim,
who is now his grand vizier - after all the deal is about his life and his
daughter. But Cassim proves to be too much of a coward to save even his
own daughter ...
When Cassim did not meet Ali's deadline, the thieves
prepare to kill Amara, but Ali, who has since found out who she really is
(but not revealed his own identity) lets her go nevertheless. Back in
Bagdad, Amara is tricked into agreeing to marry the Khan, even though,
having in the meantime learned about his true identity, she has fallen
hopelessly in love with Ali - and when Ali learns about the wedding, he
makes up a plan to smuggle his forty thieves into the town in 40 amphoras
disguised as wedding presents. Ali's plan is of course found out, but he
finds out that it's found out, so he gets the thieves into town some other
way (it's never explained how), and together with the dissatisfied
citizens of Bagdad they start a revolution, at the end of which the Khan
is killed - not before he has killed Cassim though, Ali just couldn't kill
the father of his bride-to-be, right?
And in the end, Ali of course gets
A rather typical Jon Hall-Maria Montez film: A doomed
love story with a happy end, exotic sets, complete disregard to historical
facts or the film's source material (in fact, the film shows more
parallels to their earlier Arabian
Nights than to the actual tale), a simplistic adventure plot, a
few revealing (for their time) shots of Ms Montez ... and all in glorious
Technicolor. So no, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves is not a great
film, it's not even one of the better 1001 Arabian Nights-style
adventures ... but that's not to say it's not great fun in an escapist and
nostalgic kind of way. You might have to get in touch with your inner
child to enjoy it, or turn your brain down from time to time, but there is
a way to like this one!