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Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Having recently seen the famous 1940 Technicolor version (Korda/Powell/Rozsa) on the big screen, I wanted to try the Douglas Fairbanks ’ silent again, & found it more enjoyable than I had recalled. The DVD transfer is only moderately successful, but a cut on your contrast helps the orthochromatic stock register the rapture of Wm. Cameron Menzies ’ production which is even more stunningly & stupendous than his work on the remake. Though probably chosen to keep things action-packed, director Raoul Walsh ended up falling hard for all the visual exotica (hard to blame him in this Art Deco Persian paradise) and he lets the fun run on too long while encouraging the amazingly fit Doug Senior to indulge in needless kiddie pantomime. No matter, THIEF has a special sweetness to it, and enough good spirits and well cast players to compete with the decor & effects, many of which remain utterly magical, most especially when Doug drafts an army out of dust balls at the climax.

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