The timeworn British stage musical Chu Chin Chow had already been made into a silent picture when this talkie version made its bow in 1934. Based on Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, the film stars corpulent music-hall comedian George Robey as Ali Baba, sinister Fritz Kortner as robber captain Abu Hahan, and exotic Anna May Wong as slave girl Zahrat, who saves Ali's life by properly applying oil to a collection of not-so-empty barrels. The obligatory romantic subplot is handled by John Garrick and Pearl Argyle, while comedy relief is supplied by a vaudevillian named Jetsam (that's right, of the team of "Flotsam and...") Director Walter Forde does little to "cinematize" the old property, which is just as well. Originally released at 93 minutes, Chu Chin Chow was shorn of about 5 minutes before its American release; presumably some of the sexier "nautch" dances were among the excised scenes.
by Hal Erickson synopsis