Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. United Kingdom, 1940. Alexander Korda Films, London Film Productions. Story by Miklos Rozsa, Screenplay and dialogue by Miles Malleson, scenario by Lajos Biro. Cinematography by Georges Perinal. Produced by Alexander Korda. Music by Miklos Rozsa. Production Design by Vincent Kord. Costume Design by John Armstrong, Oliver Messel, Marcel Vertes. Film Editing by Charles Crichton. The Criterion Collection. Academy Awards 1940.
An obviously strong influence on Disney’s Aladdin (one can draw many similarities to plot and production design between the two films), this magnificent fantasy film stars a young Sabu as a petty thief assisting a blind beggar who was once a prince in finding his true love and being reinstated in his lordly position. This will be something of a challenge, however, because the princess is being kept locked up by the evil Jafar (Conrad Veidt–is it just me or does this man play villains like he wants to be Marlene Dietrich?) Technological limitations were obviously never an issue for Korda, who finds some of the most stunningly creative ways to show giant genies, magic carpets and flying horses, all of it gorgeously photographed in eye-popping Technicolour. The film was interrupted halfway through its filming in Morocco thanks to the outbreak of World War II, so most of the outdoor locations were completed in the United States.