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Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

USA 1944
produced by
Paul Malvern, Jack J. Gross (executive) for Universal
directed by Arthur Lubin
starring Maria Montez, Jon Hall, Turhan Bey, Andy Devine, Kurt Katch, Frank Puglia, Fortunio Bonanova, Moroni Olsen, Ramsay Ames, Chris-Pin Martin, Scotty Beckett, Yvette Duguay, Noel Cravat, Jimmy Conlin, Harry Cording, Angelo Rossitto, Robert Barron, Alphonse Bergé, William 'Wee Willie' Davis, Rex Evans, James Khan, Belle Mitchell, Theodore Patay, Charles Wagenheim
written by Edmund L. Hartmann, music by Edward Ward

Maria Montez & Jon Hall, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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.

Learning about 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 the girl.


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!


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD