Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1944)

Genres - Adventure  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Adventure, Costume Adventure  |   Run Time - 87 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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A rather obvious rule of thumb is that one ventures into a Maria Montez movie for the visual splendors rather than for a master class in acting or an elegantly crafted screenplay that abounds with rapier wit, and that rule definitely applies to Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Yet if Ali is not a great film, it's still a splendid way to mindlessly pass the time. First, there's the delectable Montez herself, giving new meaning to the word "sultry" without even half trying. Montez doesn't walk across the screen, she glides or stalks or slinks, and her gait tells you exactly what the character is thinking. She's no actress, but that doesn't stop her from trying, and she's so delicious that one can't help enjoying her. Jon Hall is more or less the male Montez, a keen looker who's stronger on presence and presentation than on actual talent, and together the two make Ali a heap of fun. The screenplay, though far better than others that Montez worked with, has more than its share of ripe dialogue, and Arthur Lubin's direction doesn't go for subtlety, but it's all in keeping with the spirit of the piece. The sets and costumes are appropriately gaudy, and the supporting cast even finds room for Andy Devine, who would seem to be totally out of place in an Arabian nights picture, yet who somehow fits in with the campy mise en scene of the flick.