Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves (1944)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 7/8/18
Cast: Maria Montez, Jon Hall, Turhan Bey, Andy Devine

When the Mongols invade the city of Baghdad, the son of the caliph escapes and is adopted by a band of thieves who live in a magical cave. He is given the name Ali Baba (Jon Hall), and ten years later he organizes a rebellion to reclaim his throne. As fate would have it, his childhood sweetheart Amala (Maria Montez) has grown into a beautiful woman and is destined to marry the Mongol king, so he has to reclaim her as well.

Much better than the overly goofy "Arabian Nights" (1942), but not as colorful and extravagant. Jon Hall and Maria Montez team up again for this adventure, and while their performances are much improved, there is literally no romantic spark between them at all. They don't even share a single kiss. It's interesting that Ms. Montez (Universal's "queen of Technicolor") was given star billing in this film, even though she does nothing more than walk around in gauzy gowns and take an occasional bath. The cinematography is very good and the horse riding scenes are especially well done, although they're unfortunately intercut with distracting and unconvincing rear projection shots. The film also uses a number of glaringly unconvincing matte paintings. The opening credits deserve a special mention as they're painted on a wall and washed away with water. The resulting effect is unique and very interesting. The film is light on action, but moves at brisk pace that keeps it from being dull.